Showing posts with label Part I. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Part I. Show all posts

Sunday 4 April 2021

Sūrah Yāʾ Sīn: Exegesis / Tafsir of 36th Chapter of Quran (Part One - Ruku 1-3, Verses 1-50)

Sūrah Yāʾ Sīn is the seventieth sürah with 83 āyāt with five  rukus, part of the 22-23 Juzʼ  of the Qur'ān. In chronology it belongs to the last stage of the middle Makkan period, or it is one of those Surahs, which were sent down during the last stage of the Holy Prophet's stay at Makkah.
The surah begins with Yāʾ Sīn " يٰسٓ ", the disjointed words called the muqaṭṭaʻāt. The mysterious letters are combinations of between one and five Arabic letters figuring at the beginning of 29 out of the 114 chapters (surahs) of the Quran just after the Bismillāh Islamic phrase. The letters are also known as fawātiḥ (فَوَاتِح) or "openers" as they form the opening verse of their respective surahs.  Read more about the Huroof Muqatta’at, or the abbreviated / disjointed letters

Sūrah Yāʾ Sīn is part of  a series of six Surahs, i.e., Surahs. xxxiv. to S. xxxix, which recapitulate some of the features of the spiritual world. While Surah xxxiv leads off with emphasis on Allah's Mercy and Power and Truth, in Surah. xxxv we are told how angels manifest the Power of Allah, and how different is Good from Evil and Truth from Falsehood. Surah xxxvi Ya Sin. is devoted to the holy Prophet and the Qur'an that came through him. In Surah xxxvii, the emphasis is on the snares of Satan; in Surah xxxviii., on the conquest of evil by wisdom and power as in the case of David and Solomon, and by Patience and Constancy as in the case of Job; and in Surah xxxix. on the Final Judgment, which will sort out Faith from Unfaith and give to each its due.

Imam Ahmad, Abu Daud, Nasai, Ibn Majah and Tabarani have related on the authority of Hadrat Ma'qil bin Yasar that the Holy Prophet said: "Sūrah Yāʾ Sīn is the heart of the Qur'an." This is similar to describing the Surah Al Fatiha has the Umm al Qur'an (the essence or core of the Qur'an), because Al Fatihah contains the sum and substance of the teaching of the whole Quran. The Sūrah Yāʾ Sīn has been called the throbbing heart of the Qur'an because it presents the message of the Qur'an in a most forceful manner, which breaks the inertness and stirs the spirit of man to action.

Again Imam Ahmad, Aba Da'ud and Ibn Majah have related from the same Ma'qil bin Yasar that the Holy Prophet said: "Recite Surah Ya Sin to the dying ones among you." The object is not only to revive and refresh the whole Islamic creed in the mind of the dying person but also bring before him, in particular, a complete picture of the Hereafter so that he may know what stages he would have to pass through after crossing the stage of this worldly life. In view of this, it would be desirable that along with the recitation of the Surah Ya Sin its translation also is made for the benefit of the person who does not know Arabic so that the purpose of the admonition is duly fulfilled. 

Owing to the length of the Surah, the tafsir/exegesis has been divided into Two Parts as under:

Part One (Ruku 1-3 Verses 1-50)
  • Ruku One (Verses 1-12) in which it is said that Al Qur'an is revealed by the Allah to warn people and Prophet is told that he could warn only those people who have the fear of Allah
  • Ruku Two (Verses 13-32): Verses 13-21 contain example of three Prophets who were sent to one town, all denied them except one man who came from cross the town and verses 22-32 show that Allah blessed the man who believed with Paradise and destroyed the disbelievers
  • Ruku Three (verses 33-50): 33-36 mention that Allah has created all things in pair, 37-40 explain that day, night, sun and moon; all are being regulated by Allah and 41-50 are about the disbeliever's attitude towards spending in the way of Allah.
Part Two (Ruku 4-5 Verses 51-83)
  • Ruku Four (Verses 51-67): Wherein verses 51-54 paint a scene from the Day of Judgement, verses 55-58 explain Allah's greeting to the residents of Paradise and verses 59-67 are about Allah's address to the criminal sinners and On the Day of judgement hands and feet shall testify.
  • Ruku Five (Verses 68-83): In verses 68-76 exhibit that Al-Quran is to warn those who are alive and to establish charge against the disbelievers and the concluding verses 77-83 dwell on the theme that Allah, Who has created the man, shall give him life again, for accountability on the Day of Judgement
We have already presented the overview / summary of the sürah. Let us now read the verse by verse translation and exegesis / tafseer in English. 

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ 
"In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful"

Ruku One (Verses 1-12)

يٰسٓ ۚ‏ 
(36:1) Yāʾ Sīn.
Ibn Abbas, Ikrimah, Dahhak, Hasan Basri and Sufyan bin Uyainah have opined that it means, “O man”, or “O person”. Some other commentators have regarded it as an abbreviation of “Ya Sayyid” as well, which, according to this interpretation, would be an address to the Prophet (peace be upon him).

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Whereas some of the classical commentators incline to the view that the letters y-s (pronounced ya sin) with which this surah opens belong to the category of the mysterious letter-symbols (al-muqatta'at) introducing a number of Qur'anic chapters, Abd Allah ibn 'Abbas states that they actually represent two distinct words, namely the exclamatory particle ya ("O") and sin, which in the dialect of the tribe of Tayy' is synonymous with insan ("human being" or "man"): hence, similar to the two syllables ta ha in surah {20}, ya sin denotes "O thou human being!" This interpretation has been accepted by 'Ikrimah, Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan al-Basri, Sa'id ibn Jubayr, and other early Qur'an-commentators (see Tabari, Baghawi, Zamakhshari, Baydawi, Ibn Kathir, etc.). According to Zamakhshari, it would seem that the syllable sln is an abbreviation of unaysin, the diminutive form of insan used by the Tayy' in exclamations. (It is to be borne in mind that in classical Arabic a diminutive is often expressive of no more than endearment: e.g., ya bunayya, which does not necessarily signify "O my little son" but, rather, "my dear son" irrespective of the son's age.) On the whole, we may safely assume that the words ya sin apostrophize the Prophet Muhammad, who is explicitly addressed in the sequence, and are meant to stress - as the Qur'an so often does - the fact of his and all other apostles' humanness.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Some Commentators take Ya to be the vocative particle, and Sin to be the abbreviation of Insan, Sin being the only "Firm Letter" in the word. In that case it would be an address to man. "O man!" But "man" in this connection is understood to mean the Leader of man, the noblest of mankind. Muhammad the Prophet of Allah. For this Surah deals mainly with the holy Prophet and his Message. But no dogmatic assertion can be made about the Abbreviated Letters, following S. ii. Ya-Sin is usually treated as a title of the holy Prophet.

وَالۡقُرۡاٰنِ الۡحَكِيۡمِ ۙ‏ 
(36:2) By the Wise Qur'an,

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: The best credentials of the holy Prophet are: (1) the revelation which he brought ("the Qur'an"), and the heroic unselfish life which he led ("on a Straight Way"). The appeal is therefore made on the testimony of these two facts.

اِنَّكَ لَمِنَ الۡمُرۡسَلِيۡنَۙ‏ 
(36:3) you are truly among the Messengers,
To begin a discourse like this does not mean that the Prophet (peace be upon him), God forbid, had some doubt about his Prophethood, and Allah had to say this in order to reassure him of it. But the reason is that the disbelieving Quraish at that time were most vehemently refusing to believe in his Prophethood. Therefore, Allah at the very beginning of the discourse has said: You are indeed one of the Messengers, which implies that the people who deny your Prophethood are misled and mistaken. 

To further confirm the same, an oath has been taken by the Quran and the word “wise” has been used as an epithet of the Quran, which means this: An obvious proof of your being a Prophet is this Quran, which is full of wisdom. This itself testifies that the person who is presenting such wise revelations is most surely a Messenger of God. No man has the power to compose such revelations. The people who know Muhammad (peace be upon him) can never be involved in the misunderstanding that he is himself forging these discourses, or reciting them after having learned them from another man. For further explanation, see (Surah Yunus, Ayats 16-17, 37-39); (Surah Bani-Israil, Ayat 88); (Surah An-Naml, Ayat 75); (Surah Al-Qasas, Ayats 44-46, 85-87); (Surah Al-Ankabut, Ayats 49-51); (Surah Ar-Rum, Ayats 1-5).

Muhammad Asad Explanation: This statement explains the adjurative particle wa (rendered by me as "Consider") at the beginning of the preceding verse - namely: "Let the wisdom apparent in the Qur'an serve as an evidence of the fact that thou art an apostle of God". 

As regards my rendering of al-qur'an al-haklm as "this Qur'an full of wisdom", see note [2] on 10:1 - reproduced herein under:
The term hakim - which, when qualifying an animated being, may be translated as "wise" - has here the connotation of a means of imparting wisdom. Some of the classical commentators (e.g., Tabari) are of the opinion that the "divine writ" (kitab) mentioned here is the Qur'an as a whole, while others (e.g., Zamakhshari) see in it a reference to this particular surah. In view of the sequence, it seems to me that the former interpretation is preferable.
عَلٰى صِرَاطٍ مُّسۡتَقِيۡمٍؕ‏ 
(36:4) on a Straight Way,

تَنۡزِيۡلَ الۡعَزِيۡزِ الرَّحِيۡمِ ۙ‏ 
(36:5) (and this Qur'an) is a revelation from the Most Mighty, the Most Compassionate
Here, two of the attributes of the Sender of the Quran have been mentioned. First, that He is All-Mighty; second, that He, is All-Merciful. The first attribute is meant to impress the reality that the Quran is not the counsel of a powerless preacher, which if you overlook or ignore, will not bring any harm to you; but this is the Edict of that Owner of the Universe, Who is All-Mighty, Whose decrees cannot be withheld from being enforced by any power, and Whose grasp cannot be avoided by anyone. The second attribute is meant to make one realize that it is all due to His kindness and mercy that He has sent His Messenger for your guidance and instruction and sent down this great Book so that you may avoid errors and follow the right path which may lead you to the successes of the world and the Hereafter.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: That is this path which you have brought is a revelation from the Lord of might Who is Most Merciful to His believing servants. This is like the Ayah:
(And verily, you are indeed guiding (mankind) to the straight path. The path of Allah to Whom belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth. Verily, to Allah all matters return.) (42:52-53).
Yusuf Ali  Explanation:  The Revelation again is characterised by two attributes which we find most helpful in contemplating about Allah. It has force and power: for Allah is Exalted in Might and able to enforce His Will. And it brings a Message of hope and mercy; for Allah is Most Merciful. By its characteristics we know that the Qur'an is from Allah.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: rf 14:50 - "if I am on the right path, it is but by virtue of what my Sustainer reveals unto me".

Read more about two attributes of Allah mentioned above:
  • Al 'Aziz (العزيز) - The Mighty, The Eminent
  • Ar Rahim (الرحيم) -  The Most Merciful

لِتُنۡذِرَ قَوۡمًا مَّاۤ اُنۡذِرَ اٰبَآؤُهُمۡ فَهُمۡ غٰفِلُوۡنَ‏ 
(36:6) so that you may warn a people whose ancestors were not warned before wherefore they are heedless.
Another translation can be: You should warn the people of the same of which their forefathers had been warned, because they live in heedlessness. If the first meaning, as given above in the text, is taken, the forefathers would imply the forefathers of the immediate past, for in the ancient time several Prophets had appeared in Arabia. And if the second meaning is adopted, it would imply this: Revive and refresh the message that had been conveyed to the forefathers of this nation by the Prophets in the past, for these people have forgotten it. Obviously, there is no contradiction between the two translations, and, as to meaning, each is correct in its own place.

A doubt may rise here: How could the forefathers of a nation to whom no warner had been sent at a particular time in the past, be held responsible for their deviation at that time? The answer is: When Allah sends a Prophet in the world, the influence of his message and teaching spreads far and wide, and is handed down by one generation to the other. As long as this influence remains and there continue arising among the followers of the Prophet such people as keep his message of guidance fresh, the period of time cannot be said to be without the guidance. And when the influence of the Prophet’s teaching dies out, or the teaching is tampered with, the appointment of another Prophet becomes inevitable. Before the advent of the Prophet (peace be upon him) the influence of the teachings of the Prophets Abraham, Ishmael, Shuaib and Moses and Jesus (peace be upon all of them) could be seen everywhere in Arabia and from time to time there had been arising among the Arabs, or coming from outside, men, who revived their teachings. When the influence was about to die out, and the real teaching was also distorted, Allah raised the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and made such arrangements that his message can neither be wiped out nor tampered with. 

This is as said in (34:3) The unbelievers say: “How come the Hour is not coming upon us!...”
That is they said satirically and mockingly. What they meant was: “This Prophet (peace be upon him) has been giving us the news of his coming of Resurrection for along time now, but Resurrection has not overtaken us so far although we have openly denied and rejected him as a Prophet, have been insolent to him and have ridiculed him in every way.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir:  This refers to the Arabs, for no warner had come to them before him. The fact that they alone are mentioned does not mean that others are excluded, just as mentioning some individuals does not mean that all others are excluded. We have already mentioned the Ayat and Mutawatir Hadiths which state that the mission of the Prophet is universal, when we discussed the meaning of the Ayah:
(Say: "O mankind! Verily, I am sent to you all as the Messenger of Allah.'') (7:158).

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: The Quraish had received no Prophet before, and therefore one of themselves was made the vehicle for the universal Message to the whole world. 

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Cf. {6:131-132}. In the wider sense of this expression, the "forefathers" may be a metonym for a community's cultural past: hence, the reference to those "forefathers" not having been "warned" (i.e., against evil) evidently alludes to the defectiveness of the ethical heritage of people who have become estranged from true moral values.

لَقَدۡ حَقَّ الۡقَوۡلُ عَلٰٓى اَكۡثَرِهِمۡ فَهُمۡ لَا يُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ‏ 
(36:7) Surely most of them merit the decree of chastisement; so they do not believe.
This is about those people who were being obstinate and stubborn with regard to the message of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and had made up their minds not to listen to him at all. This is because: They have already deserved the torment; therefore, they do not believe. It means: The people who do not heed the admonition, and persist in their denial and hostile attitude to the truth in spite of the final warning from Allah conveyed through the Prophets, are themselves overwhelmed by the evil consequences of their misdeeds and deprived of every opportunity to believe. The same thing has been expressed more clearly in (verse 11 )below: You can only warn him who follows the admonition and fears the Merciful God though he cannot see Him.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: Ibn Jarir said, "The punishment has become inevitable for most of them, because Allah has decreed in the Mother of the Book (Al-Lawh Al-Mahfuz) that they will not believe in Allah, or in His Messengers.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: " Indeed, the word [of God's condemnation] is bound to come true against most of them: for they will not believe. " Lit., "has come true", the past tense indicating the inevitability of its "coming true" - i.e., taking effect.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Cf. vii. 30; also xvii. 16. If people deliberately and obstinately refuse "to believe", i.e., to receive guidance and admonition, the result must be that Allah's grace and mercy are withdrawn from them. Their own perversity inevitably blocks up all channels for their correction.

اِنَّا جَعَلۡنَا فِىۡۤ اَعۡنَاقِهِمۡ اَغۡلٰلًا فَهِىَ اِلَى الۡاَ ذۡقَانِ فَهُمۡ مُّقۡمَحُوۡنَ‏ 
(36:8) We have put fetters around their necks which reach up to their chins so that they are standing with their heads upright,
“Shackles” in this verse implies their own stubbornness which was preventing them from accepting the truth. “Reaching to chins” and “so they are made stiff-necked” implies the stiffness of the neck which is caused by pride and haughtiness. Allah means to impress this: We have made their obstinacy and stubbornness the shackles of their neck, and their pride and haughtiness has made them so stiff-necked that they will not pay heed to any reality, however clear and evident it may be.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: The State of Those Who are decreed to be among the Doomed
Allah says: `In the case of those who are decreed to be among the doomed, when it comes to the matter of being guided, We have made them like a person who has a chain around his neck and whose hands are tied together beneath his chin so that his head is lifted up.' 

As Allah says: " فَهُم مُّقْمَحُونَ " (so that their heads are raised up.) Mentioning the chains around the neck is sufficient and there is no need to mention the hands, although they are referred to by implication. 

Al-`Awfi said, narrating from Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, concerning the Ayah: This is like the Ayah: (And let not your hand be tied (like a miser) to your neck)(17:29). meaning that their hands are tied to their necks and they cannot stretch them forth in order to do any good deeds.

According to Mujahid it means their heads are raised, and their hands are placed over their mouths, so they are restrained from doing anything good.

Then Allah revealed: ( إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا فِى أَعْنـقِهِمْ أَغْلَـلاً Verily, We have put on their necks iron collars...) up to: (فَهُمْ لاَ يُبْصِرُونَ so that they cannot see.)'' He said, "They used to say, `Here is Muhammad,' and he would say, `Where is he Where is he' And he would not be able to see him.'' Ibn Jarir also recorded this.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Sc., "and they cannot see the right way" (Razi); their "forced-up heads" symbolize also their arrogance. On the other hand, God's "placing shackles" around the sinners' necks is a metaphor similar to His "sealing their hearts and their hearing", spoken of in 2:7 and explained in the corresponding note [7] - reproduced herein under:
" God has sealed their hearts and their hearing, and over their eyes is a veil;.."
A reference to the natural law instituted by God, whereby a person who persistently adheres to false beliefs and refuses to listen to the voice of truth gradually loses the ability to perceive the truth, "so that finally, as it were, a seal is set upon his heart" (Raghib). Since it is God who has instituted all laws of nature - which, in their aggregate, are called sunnat Allah ("the way of God") - this "sealing" is attributed to Him: but it is obviously a consequence of man's free choice and not an act of "predestination". Similarly, the suffering which, in the life to come, is in store for those who during their life in this world have willfully remained deaf and blind to the truth, is a natural consequence of their free choice - just as happiness in the life to come is the natural consequence of man's endeavour to attain to righteousness and inner illumination. It is in this sense that the Qur'anic references to God's "reward" and "punishment" must be understood. 
The same applies to the metaphor of the "barriers" and the "veiling" mentioned in the next verse.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Man's misdeeds inevitably call forth the operation of Allah's Law. The result of man's willful disobedience is now described in a series of metaphors. (1) Refusal of Allah's Light means less and less freedom of action for man: the yoke of sin is fastened round man's neck, and it gets more and more tightened, right up to the chin. (2) The head is forced up and kept in a stiff position, so that the mind becomes befogged. Moral obliquity taints the intellect. According to the Sanskrit proverb, "When destruction comes near, understanding is turned upside down." According to the Latin proverb, "Whom God wishes to destroy, He first makes demented." In other words, iniquity not only is folly, but leads deeper and deeper into folly, narrowness of vision, and blindness to the finer things of life. (3) This state of deprivation of Grace leads to such a decline in spiritual vitality that the victim can neither progress nor turn back, as explained in the next verse.

وَجَعَلۡنَا مِنۡۢ بَيۡنِ اَيۡدِيۡهِمۡ سَدًّا وَّمِنۡ خَلۡفِهِمۡ سَدًّا فَاَغۡشَيۡنٰهُمۡ فَهُمۡ لَا يُبۡصِرُوۡنَ‏
(36:9) and We have put a barrier before them and a barrier behind them, and have covered them up, so they are unable to see.
Setting a barrier before them and a barrier behind them, means that the natural result of their stubbornness and pride is that they neither learn any lesson from their past history nor ever consider the consequences of the future. Their prejudices have so covered them from every side and their misconceptions have so blinded them that they cannot see even those glaring realities which are visible to every right-thinking and unbiased person.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: ( وَجَعَلْنَا مِن بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ سَدّاً And We have put a barrier before them,) Mujahid said, "Between them and the truth, so they are confused.'' Qatadah said, "They move from one form of misguidance to another.''

"فَأغْشَيْنَـهُمْ " and We have covered them up,) means, `We have blinded their eyes to the truth.' 

" فَهُمْ لاَ يُبْصِرُونَ " (so that they cannot see.) means, they cannot benefit from goodness or be guided to it. Ibn Jarir said, "It was narrated from Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, that he used to recite "Fa a`shaynahum'' ﴿instead of Fa'aghshaynahum﴾, from Al-`Asha (weakness of the sight, blindness), which is a complaint of the eye.'' 

`Abdur-Rahman bin Zayd bin Aslam said, "Allah placed this barrier between them and Islam and Iman, so that they will never reach it,'' and he recited: (Truly, those, against whom the Word (wrath) of your Lord has been justified, will not believe, Even if every sign should come to them, until they see the painful torment.) (10:96-97). Then he said, "Whoever has been prevented by Allah, will never be able.'' `Ikrimah said, "Abu Jahl said, `If I see Muhammad, I will do such and such.'

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Sc., "so that they can neither advance nor go back": a metaphor of utter spiritual stagnation.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Their retreat is cut off and their progress is impossible. Further the Light that should come from above is cut off, so that they become totally devoid of any hope, and the last gleam of any spiritual understanding is extinguished in them.

وَسَوَآءٌ عَلَيۡهِمۡ ءَاَنۡذَرۡتَهُمۡ اَمۡ لَمۡ تُنۡذِرۡهُمۡ لَا يُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ‏ 
(36:10) It is all the same for them whether you warn them or do not warn them for they shall not believe.
This does not mean that it is futile to preach, but it means: Your preaching reaches every kind of people. Some of them are the ones mentioned above, and some others those who are being mentioned in the next verse. When you come across the people of the first kind and you see that they continue to persist in their denial, pride and antagonism, you should leave them alone, but at the same time you should not feel disheartened so as to give up your mission, for you do not know exactly where among the multitudes of the people are those sincere servants of God, who would heed your admonition and fear God and turn to the right path. The real object of your preaching, therefore, should be to search out and collect this second kind of the people. You should ignore the stubborn people and gather this precious element of the society about you.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: Allah has decreed that they will be misguided, so warning them will not help them and will not have any effect on them. Something similar has already been seen at the beginning of Surat Al-Baqarah, and Allah also says:
(Truly, those, against whom the Word (wrath) of your Lord has been justified, will not believe, Even if every sign should come to them, until they see the painful torment.) [10:96-97].

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: When the stage just described is reached, revelation or spiritual teaching ceases to have any value for them. Why then preach? The answer is given in the verses following.

اِنَّمَا تُنۡذِرُ مَنِ اتَّبَعَ الذِّكۡرَ وَخَشِىَ الرَّحۡمٰنَ بِالۡغَيۡبِۚ فَبَشِّرۡهُ بِمَغۡفِرَةٍ وَّاَجۡرٍ كَرِيۡمٍ‏ 
(36:11) You can warn only him who follows the Admonition and fears the Merciful Lord without seeing Him. Give such a one good tidings of forgiveness and a generous reward.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: ( إِنَّمَا تُنذِرُ مَنِ اتَّبَعَ الذِّكْرَ You can only warn him who follows the Reminder,) means, `only the believers will benefit from your warning, those who follow the Reminder,' which is the Qur'an.

(وَخشِىَ الرَّحْمـنَ بِالْغَيْبِ and fears the Most Gracious unseen.) means, even when no one sees him except Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, he knows that Allah is watching him and sees what he does. ( فَبَشِّرْهُ بِمَغْفِرَةٍ Bear you to such one the glad tidings of forgiveness,) i.e., of his sins, ( وَأَجْرٍ كَرِيمٍ and a generous reward.) means, one that is vast and great and beautiful. 
This is like the Ayah: (Verily, those who fear their Lord unseen, theirs will be forgiveness and a great reward.) (67:12).
Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Cf. xxxv. 18. As far as those are concerned, who have obstinately delivered themselves to evil, the preaching of Allah's Message has no appeal, because their own will shuts them out. But there are others who are anxious to hear Allah's Message and receive Allah's grace. They love Allah and fear to offend against His holy Law, and their fear is not merely superficial but deep-seated: for while they do not yet see Allah, nor do other people see them, they have the same sense of Allah's presence as if they saw Him, and their religion is not a mere pose, "to be seen of men".

See xxxv. 18 (Bil-gaibi " بِالۡغَيۡبِۚ ": unseen in the adverbial sense. The man, who, though he does not see Allah, so realizes Allah's Presence in himself as if he saw Him, is the man of genuine Faith, and for him Allah's Revelation comes through many channels and is always fruitful.). Unseen is here adverbial: their reverence for Allah is unaffected by the fact that they do not see Him, or that other people do not observe them, because their attitude arises out of a genuine love for Allah.

To such persons the Message of Allah comes as a gospel or good news: because it shows them the way of forgiveness for anything wrong in their past, and it gives them the promise of a full reward in the future,-generous beyond any deserts of their own, but arising out of Allah's unbounded Bounty.

اِنَّا نَحۡنُ نُحۡىِ الۡمَوۡتٰى وَنَكۡتُبُ مَا قَدَّمُوۡا وَاٰثَارَهُمۡؕ وَكُلَّ شَىۡءٍ اَحۡصَيۡنٰهُ فِىۡۤ اِمَامٍ مُّبِيۡنٍ‏ 
(36:12) We shall surely raise the dead to life and We record what they did and the traces of their deeds that they have left behind. We have encompassed that in a Clear Book.
This shows that three kinds of the entries are made in the conduct-book of men: 
  • First, whatever a person does, good or bad is entered in the divine register. 
  • Second, whatever impressions a man makes on the objects of his environment and on the limbs of his own body itself, become recorded, and all these impressions will at one time become so conspicuous that man’s own voice will become audible and the whole history of his ideas and intentions and aims and objects and the pictures of all of his good and bad acts and deeds will appear before him. 
  • Third, whatever influences he has left behind of his good and bad actions on his future generation, on his society and on mankind as a whole, will go on being recorded in his account as far as they reach and as long as they remain active and operative. 
The full record of the good and bad training given by him to his children, the good or evil that he has spread in the society, and its impact on mankind as a whole, will go on being maintained till the time that it goes on producing good or evil results in the world.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: ( إِنَّا نَحْنُ نُحْىِ الْمَوْتَى Verily, We give life to the dead,) means, on the Day of Resurrection. This also indicates that Allah gives life to the heart of whomever He wills among the disbelievers, those whose hearts have died in misguidance, by guiding them after that to the truth. 
As Allah says after mentioning hardness of the heart: (Know that Allah gives life to the earth after its death! Indeed We have made clear the Ayat to you, that you may understand.) (57:17)
(وَنَكْتُبُ مَاَ قَدَّمُواْ and We record that which they send before (them),) means, their deeds. (وَءَاثَارَهُ and their traces) means, `We write down the deeds which they used to do themselves, and the legacy they left behind, so We will requite them for that: if it is good, then We will reward them, and if it is evil, then We will punish them.' 

This is like the Hadith: (Whoever starts (or sets an example of) something good in Islam, will have a reward for it, and a reward equal to that of everyone who does it after him, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest. Whoever starts (or sets an example of) something evil in Islam, will bear the burden for that, and a burden equal to that of everyone who does it after him, without that detracting from their burden in the slightest.) This was recorded by Muslim from Jarir bin `Abdullah Al-Bajali, may Allah be pleased with him in which is detailed a story of the people from the Mudar tribe, who were wearing woolen rags. Ibn Abi Hatim recorded this Hadith in full from Jarir bin `Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him. 

In it the Prophet then recited: (and We record that which they send before (them), and their traces) Muslim also recorded it with a different chain of narration. 
There is also another Hadith recorded in Sahih Muslim from Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, who said, "The Messenger of Allah said: (When the son of Adam dies, all his deeds come to an end except three: knowledge which is beneficial to others, a righteous child who prays for him, or ongoing charity which he leaves behind. )'' 
Sufyan Ath-Thawri reported that Abu Sa`id said, "I heard Mujahid say concerning the Ayah: ( إِنَّا نَحْنُ نُحْىِ الْمَوْتَى وَنَكْتُبُ مَاَ قَدَّمُواْ وَءَاثَارَهُمْ Verily, We give life to the dead, and We record that which they send before (them), and their traces) `What they left behind of misguidance.''' 

Ibn Abi Najih and others said, narrating from Mujahid: ( وَءَاثَارَهُمْ and their traces) means their footsteps. Qatadah said, "If Allah were to have neglected anything with regard to you, O son of Adam, He would have neglected what the wind could remove of these footsteps.'' But He takes into account the footsteps of the son of Adam and all his deeds; He even takes into account these footsteps and whether they are for the purpose of obeying Allah or disobeying Him. So, whoever can have his footsteps recorded for the purpose of obeying Allah, let him do that. Imam Ahmad recorded that Jabir bin `Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "There was an empty area around the Masjid, and Banu Salamah wanted to move to be closer to the Masjid. 

When the Messenger of Allah heard about that, he said to them: (I have heard that you want to move close to the Masjid.) They said, `Yes, O Messenger of Allah, that is what we want.' He said: (O Banu Salamah, stay where you are, and your footsteps will be recorded, stay where you are, and your footsteps will be recorded.)'' 

This was also recorded by Muslim from Jabir, may Allah be pleased with him. Imam Ahmad recorded that `Abdullah bin `Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "A man died in Al-Madinah and the Prophet prayed over him, and said, (Would that he had died somewhere other than in his place of birth!) 

A man among the people said, `Why, O Messenger of Allah' The Messenger of Allah said: (When a man dies somewhere other than in his place of birth, it will be measured for him from where he was born to where his footsteps no longer appear, (and this is the space that will be allocated for him) in Paradise.)'' It was also recorded by An-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah. Ibn Jarir narrated that Thabit said, "I was walking with Anas and I began to walk quickly. He took my hand and we walked slowly, and when we had finished praying, Anas said, `I walked with Zayd bin Thabit and I was walking quickly, and he said: O Anas! Do you not feel that your footsteps are being written down''' There is no contradiction between this and the first report, on the contrary, this indicates the same thing somewhat more forcefully. Because these footsteps are being recorded, then those which are setting an example, whether good or bad, are more likely to be recorded. And Allah knows best.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: All this is possible, because there is the assurance of a Hereafter, in which Allah will be all-in-all, and evil will no longer bestride the world, as the term of its respite will have expired.

Our deeds, good and bad, go to Allah before us. They will of course be brought to our account; but our account will also be swelled by the example we left behind us and the consequences of our deeds, that will come into play or continue to operate after our earthly life has ceased. Our moral and spiritual responsibility is therefore much wider than as affects our own person.

Cf. ii. 124. All our account will be exactly preserved as in a book of record.

Ruku Two (Verses 13-32)

وَاضۡرِبۡ لَهُمۡ مَّثَلًا اَصۡحٰبَ الۡقَرۡيَةِ ​ۘ اِذۡ جَآءَهَا الۡمُرۡسَلُوۡنَۚ‏ 
(36:13) Recite to them, as a case in point, the story of the people of the town when the Messengers came to them.
The early commentators, generally, have expressed the opinion that the habitation implies the Syrian city of Antioch, and the messengers mentioned here were the ones sent by the Prophet Jesus for the preaching of his message there. Another thing that has been mentioned in this connection is that Antiochus was the king of this land at that time. But historically this story which Ibn Abbas, Qatadah, Ikrimah, Kaab Ahbar and Wahb bin Munabbih, and others have related on the basis of unauthentic Christian traditions is baseless. There have been 13 kings of the Seleucid dynasty named Antiochus who reigned in Antioch, and the rule of the last king of this name, rather the rule of this dynasty itself, came to an end in 65 B.C. At the time of the Prophet Jesus, the whole land of Syria and Palestine, including Antioch, was under the Romans. Then, no proof is forthcoming from any authentic tradition of the Christians that the Prophet Jesus might himself have sent any of his disciples to Antioch for preaching his message. 

On the contrary, the Acts of the Apostles (N.T.) shows that the Christian preachers had reached Antioch for the first time a few years after the event of the crucifixion. Now, evidently, the people who were neither appointed messengers by Allah nor sent by His Messenger cannot be regarded as messengers of Allah by any interpretation even if they might have travelled for the purpose of preaching of their own accord. Moreover, according to the Bible, Antioch was the first city where the non-Israelites embraced Christianity in large numbers and where the Christian faith met with great success; whereas the habitation mentioned by the Quran was some such habitation which rejected the invitation of the messengers, and was consequently punished with a divine torment. History also does not bear any evidence that Antioch was ever afflicted with a destruction, which might be regarded, as the result of denying the Prophethood.

On account of these reasons it cannot be accepted that the habitation implies Antioch. The habitation has neither been clearly determined in the Quran nor in any authentic Hadith. The identity of the messengers also is not known through any authentic means nor the time when they were appointed. To understand the purpose for which the Quran is narrating this story here, it is not necessary to know the names of the habitation and the messengers. The object is to warn the Quraish, as if to say: You are following the same path of stubbornness, prejudice and denial of the truth as had been followed by the people of that habitation, and are preparing yourselves to meet the same doom as was met by them.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: (The Story of the Dwellers of the Town and Their Messengers, a Lesson that Those Who belied Their Messengers were Destroyed) - Allah says, `O Muhammad, tell your people who disbelieve in you,'

(a similitude; the Dwellers of the Town, when there came Messengers to them.) In the reports that he transmitted from Ibn `Abbas, Ka`b Al-Ahbar and Wahb bin Munabbih - Ibn Ishaq reported that it was the city of Antioch, in which there was a king called Antiochus the son of Antiochus the son of Antiochus, who used to worship idols. Allah sent to him three Messengers, whose names were Sadiq, Saduq and Shalum, and he disbelieved in them. It was also narrated from Buraydah bin Al-Husayb, `Ikrimah, Qatadah and Az-Zuhri that it was Antioch. Some of the Imams were not sure that it was Antioch, as we shall see below after telling the rest of the story, if Allah wills.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Many of the classical Commentators have supposed that the City referred to was Antioch. Now Antioch was one of the most important cities in North Syria in the first century of the Christian era. It was a Greek city founded by Seleucus Nicator, one of the successors of Alexander, about 300 B.C. in memory of his father Antiochus. It was close to the sea, and had its sea-port at Seleucia. Soon after Christ his disciples successfully preached there, and they "were called Christians first in Antioch": Acts, xi. 26. It afterwards became the seat of a most important Bishopric of the Christian Church. In the story told here "by way of a parable", the City rejected the Message, and the City was destroyed: xxxvi. 29. Following Ibn Kathir, I reject the identification with Antioch decisively. No name, or period, or place is mentioned in the text. The significance of the story is in the lessons to be derived from it as a parable, for which see the next note. That is independent of name, time, or place.

اِذۡ اَرۡسَلۡنَاۤ اِلَيۡهِمُ اثۡنَيۡنِ فَكَذَّبُوۡهُمَا فَعَزَّزۡنَا بِثَالِثٍ فَقَالُـوۡۤا اِنَّاۤ اِلَيۡكُمۡ مُّرۡسَلُوۡنَ‏ 
(36:14) We sent to them two Messengers and they rejected both of them as liars. Then We strengthened them with a third (Messenger).

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: (When We sent to them two Messengers, they denied them both;) means, they hastened to disbelieve in them. 

(so We reinforced them with a third,) means, `We supported and strengthened them with a third Messenger. ' Ibn Jurayj narrated from Wahb bin Sulayman, from Shu`ayb Al-Jaba'i, "The names of the first two Messengers were Sham`un and Yuhanna, and the name of the third was Bulus, and the city was Antioch (Antakiyah).

(and they said) means, to the people of that city, (Verily, we have been sent to you as Messengers.) meaning, `from your Lord Who created you and Who commands you to worship Him Alone with no partners or associates.' This was the view of Abu Al-`Aliyah. Qatadah bin Di`amah claimed that they were messengers of the Messiah, peace be upon him, sent to the people of Antioch.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: As is usual with such passages, the commentators advance various speculations as to the "identity" of the town and the apostles. Since, however, the story is clearly described as a parable, it must be understood as such and not as an historical narrative. It seems to me that we have here an allegory of the three great monotheistic religions, successively propounded by Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, and embodying, essentially, the same spiritual truths. The "township" (qaryah) mentioned in the parable represents, I think, the common cultural environment within which these three religions appeared. The apostles of the first two are said to have been sent "together", implying that the teachings of both were - and are - anchored in one and the same scripture, the Old Testament of the Bible. When, in the course of time, their impact proved insufficient to mould the ethical attitude of the people or peoples concerned, God "strengthened" them by means of His final message, conveyed to the world by the third and last of the apostles, Muhammad ﷺ.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Allah sends His messengers or teachers of Truth by ones and twos, and where the opposition is great and He considers it necessary, he supports them with others. Their mission is divine, but they do not claim to be more than men. This is used by the unjust and the ungodly as if it were a reproach, whereas it should commend them to men, for mankind is glorified by such commission and by Allah's Self-revelation. The Message is clearly expressed in human language, but because it exposes all evil, men think it unlucky, as it checks their selfishness. It is often the poorest and most despised of mankind, from the outskirts or "farthest parts of the City", that accept the Message and are willing to work and die for it. The stiff-necked resist and accomplish their own destruction.

قَالُوۡا مَاۤ اَنۡـتُمۡ اِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِّثۡلُـنَا ۙ وَمَاۤ اَنۡزَلَ الرَّحۡمٰنُ مِنۡ شَىۡءٍۙ اِنۡ اَنۡـتُمۡ اِلَّا تَكۡذِبُوۡنَ‏  
(36:15) They said: “We have been sent to you as Messengers.” The people of the town said: “You are only human beings like ourselves, and the Merciful Lord has revealed nothing. You are simply lying.”
In other words, what they wanted to say was: Since you are human beings, you cannot be the messengers of God. The same was the view of the disbelievers of Makkah. They also said: Muhammad cannot be a messenger because he is a man.
They say: What sort of a Messenger is he that he eats food and moves about in the streets. (Surah Al-Furqan, Ayat 7).
And the unjust people whisper to one another, saying: This man is no more than a human being like yourselves. What, will you then be enticed by this sorcery while you perceive it. (Surah Al-Anbiya, Ayat 3).
The Quran refutes this erroneous notion of the people of Makkah and says that it is not any new kind of ignorance which these people are displaying, but all the ignorant people since the earliest times have been involved in the misunderstanding that a human being cannot be a messenger and a Messenger cannot be a human being. When the chiefs of the people of the Prophet Noah (peace be upon him) had rejected his Prophethood, they had said the same thing:
This person is no more than a human being like yourselves. By this he purely intends to obtain superiority over you. Had Allah willed, He would have sent down angels. Since the time of our forefathers we have never heard (that a human being should come as a Messenger). (Surah Al-Mominoon, Ayat 24).
The people of Aad had said the same about the Prophet Hud (peace be upon him): This person is no more than a human being like yourselves, for he eats of what you eat and drinks of what you drink. Now if you submit to a human being like yourselves, you will indeed be the losers. (Surah Al-Mominoon, Ayats 33-34).

The people of Thamud also said the same about the Prophet Salih (peace be upon him): Shall we follow a man from among ourselves? (Surah Al-Qamar, Ayat 24). And the same thing happened with almost every Prophet that the disbelievers said: You are no more than a human being like ourselves, and the Prophets always replied: It is true that we are no more than human beings like you, but Allah shows His favor to anyone of His servants He pleases. (Surah Ibrahim, Ayats 10-11).

Then the Quran says that this very notion of ignorance has been preventing the people from accepting guidance in every age, and the same has been the cause of every nation's downfall.
Has not the news reached to you of those who had disbelieved before this, and then tasted the evil results of their deeds. And in the Hereafter there awaits them a painful torment. They deserved this fate because their Messengers came to them with clear signs, but they said: Shall human beings show us guidance. So they refused and turned away. (Surah At-Taghabun, Ayats 5-6).
Whenever guidance came before the people, nothing prevented them from believing in it except this (excuse): they said: Has Allah sent a human being as His messenger? (Surah Bani Israil, Ayat 94).
Then the Quran says explicitly that Allah has always sent human beings as the Messengers and a human being alone can be a Messenger for the guidance for mankind and not an angel, or a supernatural being:
And We sent before you also human beings as Messengers to whom We revealed (Our message). If you (O objectors) have no knowledge of this, you may ask those who have the knowledge. We did not give them such bodies as could survive without food nor were they immortal. (Surah Al-Anbiya, Ayats 7-8).
“All the Messengers whom We sent before you also ate food and moved about in the streets. (Surah Al-Furqan, Ayat 20).
O Prophet, say to them: Had angels settled on the earth and moved about in peace, We would certainly have sent an angel as a messenger to them. (Surah Bani-Israil, Ayat 95).
" and the Merciful Lord has revealed nothing " This is another notion of ignorance in which the disbelievers of Makkah were involved. In it are also involved the so-called rationalists of today and in it have been involved the deniers of revelation and Prophethood of every age since the earliest times. These people have held the view that Allah does not send down any revelation at all for the guidance of man. He is only concerned with the affairs of the heavens: He has left the affairs and problems of man to be resoled by man himself.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Cf. Acts, xiv. 15, where Paul and Barnabas say, in the city of Lystra near the modern Konia, "We also are men with like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should tum from these vanities..."

They not only reject the mission of the particular messengers, but they deny the possibility of Allah's sending such mission. Note how they convict themselves of inconsistency by using Allah's name "Most Gracious", even though they may mean it ironically!

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Cf. 6:91 - "no true understanding of God have they when they say, 'Never has God revealed anything unto man.'" See also 34:31 and explanation. Both these passages, as well as the one above, allude to people who like to think of themselves as "believing" in God without, however, allowing their "belief" to interfere in the practical concerns of their lives: and this they justify by conceding to religion no more than a vaguely emotional role, and by refusing to admit the fact of objective revelation - for the concept of revelation invariably implies a promulgation by God, of absolute moral values and, thus, a demand for one's self-surrender to them.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: (They said: "You are only human beings like ourselves...'') means, `so how could you receive revelation when you are human beings and we are human beings, so why do we not receive revelation like you If you are Messengers, you should be angels.' This is like what many of the nations said who disbelieved, as Allah has told us in the Ayah: 
(That was because there came to them their Messengers with clear proofs, but they said: "Shall mere men guide us'') (64: 6) meaning that they were amazed by that and they denied it. 
And Allah says: (They said: "You are no more than human beings like us! You wish to turn us away from what our fathers used to worship. Then bring us a clear authority.'') (14:10). 
And Allah tells us that they said: ("If you were to obey a human being like yourselves, then verily, you indeed would be losers.'') (23:34). 
And Allah says: (And nothing prevented men from believing when the guidance came to them, except that they said: "Has Allah sent a man as (His) Messenger'') (17:94). 
These people said: (You are only human beings like ourselves, and the Most Gracious has revealed nothing. You are only telling lies.'' The Messengers said:  قَالُواْ رَبُّنَا يَعْلَمُ إِنَّآ إِلَيْكُمْ لَمُرْسَلُونَ [verse 16] "Our Lord knows that we have been sent as Messengers to you.'') This means that the three Messengers answered them saying: "Allah knows that we are His Messengers to you. If we were lying, He would have taken the utmost vengeance against us, but He will cause us to prevail and will make us victorious against you, and you will come to know whose will be the happy end in the Hereafter.'' 

This is like the Ayah: (Say: "Sufficient is Allah for a witness between me and you. He knows what is in the heavens and on earth.'' And those who believe in falsehood, and disbelieve in Allah, it is they who are the losers.) (29:52)

قَالُوۡا رَبُّنَا يَعۡلَمُ اِنَّاۤ اِلَيۡكُمۡ لَمُرۡسَلُوۡنَ‏ 
(36:16) The Messengers said: “Our Lord knows that we have indeed been sent to you

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Just as a Messenger whose credentials are doubted can refer to the authority granted by his Principal, as the highest proof of his mission, so these messengers of Allah invoke the authority of Allah in proof of their mission. In effect they say: "The knowledge of Allah is perfect, and He knows that our mission is from Him; if you do not, it is your own misfortune."

وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is, our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible to make you accept it forcibly, And if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, You will yourselves be answerable for your crimes.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir:  means, `all we have to do is to convey to you the Message with which we have been sent; if you obey, then happiness will be yours in this world and the Hereafter, and if you do not respond, you will soon know the consequences of that.' And Allah knows best.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Then they proceed to explain what their mission is. It is not to force them but to convince them. It is to proclaim openly and clearly Allah's Law, which they were breaking,-to denounce their sins and to show them the better path. If they were obstinate, it was their own loss. If they were rebellious against Allah, the punishment rested with Allah.

قَالُـوۡۤا اِنَّا تَطَيَّرۡنَا بِكُمۡۚ لَـئِنۡ لَّمۡ تَنۡتَهُوۡا لَنَرۡجُمَنَّكُمۡ وَلَيَمَسَّنَّكُمۡ مِّنَّا عَذَابٌ اَلِيۡمٌ‏ 
(36:18) The people of the town said: “We believe you are an evil omen for us. If you do not desist, we will stone you or you will receive a grievous chastisement from us.”
What they meant was: You are an evil omen for us. Our gods have become angry with us on account of what you have been saying against them. Now whatever calamity is befalling us is only because of you. Precisely the same thing used to be said by the disbelievers and the hypocrites of Arabia concerning the Prophet (peace be upon him): If they suffer a loss, they say: this is because of you. (Surah An-Nisa, Ayat 77). That is why at several places in the Quran these people have been told that in the ancient times people also used to say such things of ignorance in regard to their Prophets. The people of Thamud said to their Prophet: We regard you and your companions as a sign of bad omen. (Surah An-Naml, Ayat 47). And the same was the attitude of the people of Pharaoh: Whenever a good time came, they would say: This is but our due, and when there was a hard time, they would ascribe their calamities to Moses (peace be upon him) and his companions. (Surah Al-Aaraf, Ayat 130).

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir:  ( إِنَّا تَطَيَّرْنَا بِكُمْ For us, we see an evil omen from you;) meaning, `we do not see in your faces any sign of good for our lives.' Qatadah said, "They were saying, `if something bad befalls us, it will be because of you.''' Mujahid said, "They were saying: People like you never enter a town, but its people are punished.''

(لَئِن لَّمْ تَنتَهُواْ لَنَرْجُمَنَّكُمْ if you cease not, we will surely stone you,) Qatadah said, "By throwing stones at you.''

(وَلَيَمَسَّنَّكُمْ مِّنَّا عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ and a painful torment will touch you from us.) means, a severe punishment. Their Messengers said to them:

Muhammad Asad Explanation: For an explanation of the phrase tatayyarna bikum, see surah {7:131} - reproduced herein under:
" But whenever good fortune alighted upon them, they would say, "This is [but] our due"; and whenever affliction befell them, they would blame their evil fortune on Moses and those who followed him. ..."
The phrase tatayyara bihi signifies "he attributed an evil omen to him" or "he augured evil from him". It is based on the pre-Islamic Arab custom of divining the future or establishing an omen from the flight of birds. Thus, the noun ta'ir (lit., "a flying creature" or "a bird") is often used in classical Arabic to denote "destiny" or "fortune", both good and evil, as in the next sentence of the above verse ("their [evil] fortune had been decreed by [lit., "was with"] God"). Instances of this tropical employment of the expressions ta'ir and tayr and their verbal derivations are also found in 3:49 , 5:110 , 17:13 , 27:47 , {36:18-19}.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Tair means a bird. Like the Roman augurs, the Arabs had a superstition about deriving omens from birds. Cf. the English word "auspicious", from the Latin avis, a bird, and specio, I see. From Tair (bird) came ta-taiyara, or ittaiyara, to draw evil omens. Because the prophets of Allah denounced evil, the evil-doers thought that they brought ill-luck to them. As a matter of fact any evil that happened to them was the result of their own ill-deeds. Cf. vii. 131, where the Egyptians ascribed their calamities to the ill-luck brought by Moses: and xxvii. 47, where the Thamud ascribed ill-luck to the preaching of Salih. 

قَالُوۡا طٰۤـئِـرُكُمۡ مَّعَكُمۡؕ اَـئِنۡ ذُكِّرۡتُمۡ ؕ بَلۡ اَنۡـتُمۡ قَوۡمٌ مُّسۡرِفُوۡنَ‏ 
(36:19) The Messengers replied: “Your evil omen is with you. (Are you saying this) because you were asked to take heed? The truth is that you are a people who have exceeded all bounds.”
" The Messengers replied: “Your evil omen is with you " That is, no one is an evil omen for another. Everyman’s augury is hanging around his own neck. If a person sees an evil, it is because of his own self; and if he sees a good, it is also because of his own self. We have fastened the augury of every man to his own neck. (Surah Bani-Israil, Ayat 13).

" The truth is that you are a people who have exceeded all bounds. " That is, you in fact want to avoid the good and you like the deviation instead of the guidance. Therefore, instead of determining the truth and falsehood by means of an argument, you are making these false pretenses on account of your superstitious whims.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir:  ( طَـئِرُكُم مَّعَكُمْ Your evil omens be with you!) meaning, `they are thrown back at you.' This is like the Ayah where Allah describes the people of Fir`awn (Pharoah): 
(But whenever good came to them, they said: "Ours is this.'' And if evil afflicted them, they ascribed it to evil omens connected with Musa and those with him. Be informed! Verily, their evil omens are with Allah) (7:131). 
And the people of Salih said: ("We augur ill omen from you and those with you.'' He said: "Your ill omen is with Allah.'') (27:47) 
And Allah said: (And if some good reaches them, they say, "This is from Allah,'' but if some evil befalls them, they say, "This is from you.'' Say: "All things are from Allah,'' so what is wrong with these people that they fail to understand any word) (4:78)
(( أَءِن ذُكِّرْتُم بَلْ أَنتُمْ قَوْمٌ مُّسْرِفُونَ Do you call it ''evil omen'') because you are admonished Nay, but you are a people mischievous.) means, `because of us, because we admonished you and told you to worship Allah Alone and with all sincerity, and in return you said what you said and threatened us. Nay, but you are a mischievous people.' Qatadah said, "This means, `Because we reminded you about Allah, you saw an evil omen in us. Nay, but you are a mischievous people'. ''

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Cf. 17:13 - "every human being's destiny (ta'ir) have We tied to his neck" - and the corresponding note [17] - reproduced herein under:
" And every human being's destiny have We tied to his neck; ..."
The word ta'ir literally signifies a "bird" or, more properly, a "flying creature". Since the pre-Islamic Arabs often endeavoured to establish a good or bad omen and, in general, to foretell the future from the manner and direction in which birds would fly, the term ta'ir came to be tropically used in the sense of "fortune", both good and evil, or "destiny". (See in this connection surah {3}, note [37], and surah {7}, note [95].) It should, however, be borne in mind that the Qur'anic concept of "destiny" relates not so much to the external circumstances of and events in man's life as, rather, to the direction which this life takes in result of one's moral choices: in other words, it relates to man's spiritual fate-and this, in its turn, depends-as the Qur'an so often points out-on a person's inclinations, attitudes and conscious actions (including self-restraint from morally bad actions or, alternatively, a deliberate omission of good actions). Hence, man's spiritual fate depends on himself and is inseparably linked with the whole tenor of his personality; and since it is God who has made man responsible for his behaviour on earth, He speaks of Himself as having "tied every human being's destiny to his neck".

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: 'What ye call omens arise from your own iii-deeds. Do you suppose that a man who comes to warn you and teach you the better way brings you ill-luck? Fie upon you!'

To call Good evil and accuse of falsehood men of truth who come unselfishly to bring the message of the beneficent Mercy of Allah, is the very height of extravagance and transgression. 

وَجَآءَ مِنۡ اَقۡصَا الۡمَدِيۡنَةِ رَجُلٌ يَّسۡعٰى قَالَ يٰقَوۡمِ اتَّبِعُوا الۡمُرۡسَلِيۡنَۙ‏ 
(36:20) In the meantime a man came running from the far end of the town, saying: “My people, follow the Messengers;

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: While the wealthy, influential, and fashionable men in the city were doubtful of Allah's providence and superstitiously believed in Chance and evil omens, the Truth was seen by a man in the outskirts of the City, a man held in low esteem by the arrogant. He had believed, and he wanted his City to believe. So, in Arabia, when the arrogant chiefs of the Quraish exiled the holy Prophet, it was men from Madinah and from the outskirts, who welcomed him, believed in him, and supported his mission in every way.

اتَّبِعُوۡا مَنۡ لَّا يَسۡـئَلُكُمۡ اَجۡرًا وَّهُمۡ مُّهۡتَدُوۡنَ‏ 
(36:21) follow those who do not ask any recompense from you and are rightly-guided.
That servant of God, in this one sentence, put together all the arguments required for determining the genuineness of Prophethood. The genuineness of a Prophet can be determined by two things. First, his word and deed; second, his being selfless. What the person meant to say was this: First, whatever these people are saying is perfectly reasonable, and their own character also is pure; second, no one can prove that they are calling the people to this faith on account of a selfish motive. Therefore, there is no reason why they should not be listened to. By citing this reasoning of the person the Quran set a criterion before the people of how to judge and determine the genuineness of the Prophethood of a Prophet, as if to say: The word and deed of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) bear full evidence that he is on the right path. Then, no one can point out any selfish motive or interest behind his struggle of preaching his message. Therefore, there is no reason why a sensible person should reject what he presents.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Prophets do not seek their own advantage. They serve Allah and humanity. 'Their hope lies in the good pleasure of Allah, to Whose service they are devoted. Cf. x. 72; xii. 104; etc.

وَمَا لِىَ لَاۤ اَعۡبُدُ الَّذِىۡ فَطَرَنِىۡ وَاِلَيۡهِ تُرۡجَعُوۡنَ‏ 
(36:22) Why should I not serve the One Who created me and to Whom all of you shall be sent back?
This sentence has two parts. The first part is a masterpiece of reasoning, the second of the wisdom of preaching. In the first part he says: To worship the Creator is the demand of both reason and nature; it would be highly unreasonable that one should worship those who have not created him and should deny to be the servant of Him Who has created him. In the second part he warns his people to the effect: All of you ultimately have to die and return to that God adoption of Whose service you object to. Therefore, you should consider for yourselves as to what goodness you could expect by turning away from Him.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: means, `and what is there to stop me from sincerely worshipping the One Who has created me, and worshipping Him Alone, with no partner or associate' `On the Day of Resurrection, when He will requite you for your deeds: if they are good then you will be rewarded and if they are evil then you will be punished.'

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: The argument throughout is that of intense personal conviction for the individual himself, coupled with an appeal to his people to follow that conviction and get the benefit of the spiritual satisfaction which he has himself achieved. He says in effect: 'how is it possible for me to do otherwise than to serve and adore my Maker? I shall return to Him, and so will you, and all this applies to you as much as to me.' Note how effective is the transition from the personal experience to the collective appeal.

ءَاَ تَّخِذُ مِنۡ دُوۡنِهٖۤ اٰلِهَةً اِنۡ يُّرِدۡنِ الرَّحۡمٰنُ بِضُرٍّ لَّا تُغۡنِ عَنِّىۡ شَفَاعَتُهُمۡ شَيۡـئًا وَّلَا يُنۡقِذُوۡنِ​ۚ‏ 
(36:23) What! Shall I take any deities apart from Him whose intercession will not avail me the least were the Merciful One to bring any adversity upon me, nor will they be able to rescue me?
That is, they are neither such favorites of God that even if I commit grave crimes, He will forgive me on their recommendation, nor are they so powerful that they should be able to rescue me if God may please to punish me.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: This is a rhetorical question intended to rebuke and chastise - means, `these gods whom you worship instead of Him possess no power whatsoever, if Allah wills me some harm,'

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: The next plea is that for exclusive service to Allah. 'Suppose it were proper to worship other gods-Mammon, Self, or imaginary deities set up as idols,-yet of what benefit would that be? All power is in Allah. In His universal Plan, He may think fit to give me some sorrow or punishment: would these subordinate deities be able to help me or intercede for me with Him? Not at all. What use would they be? In fact I should obviously be going astray,-wandering from the true Path.'

اِنِّىۡۤ اِذًا لَّفِىۡ ضَلٰلٍ مُّبِيۡنٍ‏ 
(36:24) Surely in that case I should indeed be in evident error.
If I make them my gods in spite of knowing all this.

اِنِّىۡۤ اٰمَنۡتُ بِرَبِّكُمۡ فَاسۡمَعُوۡنِؕ‏ 
(36:25) I believe in your Lord; so listen to me.”
" I believe in your Lord " This sentence again contains a subtle point of the wisdom of preaching. Saying this the man made the people realize: The Lord in Whom I have believed is not merely my Lord but your Lord, too. I have committed no error by believing in Him, but you, in fact, are certainly committing an error by not believing in Him.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir:  (إِنِّى ءَامَنتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ Verily, I have believed in your Lord,) meaning, `Who has sent you,'

(فَاسْمَعُونِ so listen to me!) meaning, `bear witness to that before Him.' This was narrated by Ibn Jarir, who said, "And others said that this was addressed to the Messengers, and he said to them: `Listen to what I say and bear witness to what I say before my Lord, that I have believed in your Lord and have followed you.' This interpretation is more apparent, and Allah knows best. Ibn Ishaq said, quoting from what had reached him from Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, Ka`b and Wahb, `When he said that, they turned on him as one, and killed him at once, and he had no one to protect him from that.''' Qatadah said, "They started to stone him while he was saying, `O Allah, guide my people for they do not know, and they kept stoning him until he died a violent death, and he was still praying for them.' May Allah have mercy on him.''

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Again a transition from the assured personal conviction to the appeal to all to profit by the speaker's experience. 'I have found the fullest satisfaction for my soul in Allah. He is my God, but He is your God also. My experience can be yours also. Will you not follow my advice, and prove for yourselves that the Lord is indeed good?'

قِيۡلَ ادۡخُلِ الۡجَـنَّةَ ؕ قَالَ يٰلَيۡتَ قَوۡمِىۡ يَعۡلَمُوۡنَۙ‏ 
(36:26) (Eventually they killed him and he was told): “Enter Paradise.” The man exclaimed: “Would that my people knew
That is, immediately following his martyrdom, the man was given the good news of Paradise. As soon as he entered the next world through the gate of death, there were the angels to receive him, and they gave him the good news that Paradise was awaiting him. The commentators have disputed the meaning of this sentence. Qatadah says: Allah admitted him into Paradise straight away and he is living in it and receiving his sustenance. And Mujahid says: This was told him by the angels as a good news; he will enter Paradise on the day of Resurrection along with the other believers.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: ( ادْخُلِ الْجَنَّةَ "Enter Paradise.'') so he entered it with all its bountiful provision, when Allah had taken away from him all the sickness, grief and exhaustion of this world. Mujahid said, "It was said to Habib An-Najjar, `Enter Paradise.' This was his right, for he had been killed. When he saw the reward,

( قَالَ يلَيْتَ قَوْمِى يَعْلَمُونَ He said: "Would that my people knew...'').'' Qatadah said, "You will never find a believer but he is sincere and is never insincere. 

When he saw with his own eyes how Allah had honored him, he said: ( قِيلَ ادْخُلِ الْجَنَّةَ قَالَ يلَيْتَ قَوْمِى يَعْلَمُونَ - بِمَا غَفَرَ لِى رَبِّى وَجَعَلَنِى مِنَ الْمُكْرَمِينَ  He said: "Would that my people knew that my Lord has forgiven me, and made me of the honored ones!'') He wished that his people could know about what he was seeing with his own eyes of the honor of Allah.'' 

Ibn `Abbas said, "He was sincere towards his people during his lifetime by saying, (O my people! Obey the Messengers), and after his death by saying: (Would that my people knew that my Lord (Allah) has forgiven me, and made me of the honored ones!) 

This was recorded by Ibn Abi Hatim. Sufyan Ath-Thawri narrated from `Asim Al-Ahwal from Abu Mijlaz: (That my Lord has forgiven me, and made me of the honored ones!) "Because of my faith in my Lord and my belief in the Messengers.'' He meant that if they could see the great reward and everlasting blessings that he had attained, this would lead them to follow the Messengers. May Allah have mercy on him and be pleased with him, for he was so keen that his people should be guided.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: I.e., by the apostles or, more probably (in view of the allegorical character of this story), by his own insight. The intervention of the man who "came running from the farthest end of the city" is evidently a parable of the truly believing minority in every religion, and of their desperate, mostly unavailing endeavours to convince their erring fellow-men that God-consciousness alone can save human life from futility.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: This godly and righteous man entered into the Garden. Perhaps it is implied that he suffered martyrdom. But even then his thoughts were always with his People. He regretted their obstinacy and want of understanding, and wished even then that they might repent and obtain salvation, but they were obdurate and suffered for their sins as we learn from verses 28-29 below.

بِمَا غَفَرَلِىۡ رَبِّىۡ وَجَعَلَنِىۡ مِنَ الۡمُكۡرَمِيۡنَ‏ 
(36:27) for what reason Allah has forgiven me and placed me among the honoured ones.”
This is a specimen of the high morality of the believer, He had no ill will or feeling of vengeance in his heart against the people who had just killed him so that he should invoke Allah against them. Instead, he was still wishing them well. After death the only wish that he cherished was: Would that my people could know the good end that I have met, and could learn a lesson from my death, if not from my life, and adopt the righteous way. The noble person did not wish Hell for his murderers but wished that they should believe and become worthy of Paradise. The same thing has been commended in the Hadith: He wished his people well when living as well as when dead.

Allah has narrated this event in order to warn the disbelievers of Makkah to the effect: Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his believing companions are also your well wishers just as the believer was of his people. They do not cherish any ill-will or feeling of vengeance against you in spite of your persecutions of them. They are not your enemies but enemies of your deviation and error. The only object of their struggle against you is that you should adopt the right way.
This verse also is one of those verses which clearly prove the existence of barzakh. This shows that the period of time between death and Resurrection is not a period of nonexistence altogether, as some ignorant people think. But in this period the spirit lives without the body, speaks and hears speech, has feelings and desires, feels happy and unhappy, and also continues to be concerned about the people of the world. Had it not been so, the believer would not have been given the good news of Paradise after death, and he could not have wished that his people became aware of his good end.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: "Because of my faith in my Lord and my belief in the Messengers.'' He meant that if they could see the great reward and everlasting blessings that he had attained, this would lead them to follow the Messengers. May Allah have mercy on him and be pleased with him, for he was so keen that his people should be guided. 

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: This man was just a simple honest soul, but he heard and obeyed the call of the prophets and obtained his spiritual desire for himself and did best to obtain salvation for his people. For he loved his people and respected his ancestral traditions as far as they were good, but had no hesitation in accepting the new Light when it came to him. All his past was forgiven him and he was raised to dignity and honour in the Kingdom of Heaven. 

وَمَاۤ اَنۡزَلۡنَا عَلٰى قَوۡمِهٖ مِنۡۢ بَعۡدِهٖ مِنۡ جُنۡدٍ مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ وَمَا كُـنَّا مُنۡزِلِيۡنَ‏ 
(36:28) After him, We did not send down any hosts from the heaven; We stood in no need to send down any host.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: Allah tells us that He took revenge on his people after they had killed him because He, may He be blessed and exalted, was angry with them, for they had disbelieved in His Messengers and killed His close friend. Allah tells us that He did not send an army of angels, nor did He need to send them, to destroy these people; the matter was simpler than that. 

This was the view of Ibn Mas`ud, according to the reports of Ibn Ishaq from some of his companions concerning the Ayah: ( وَمَآ أَنزَلْنَا عَلَى قَوْمِهِ مِن بَعْدِهِ مِن جُندٍ مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ وَمَا كُنَّا مُنزِلِينَ And We sent not against his people after him an army from the heaven, nor was it needful for Us to send.) He said: "`We did not seek to outnumber them, for the matter was simpler than that.'' 

اِنۡ كَانَتۡ اِلَّا صَيۡحَةً وَّاحِدَةً فَاِذَا هُمۡ خٰمِدُوۡنَ‏ 
(36:29) There was but a single Blast and suddenly they became silent and still.
These words contain a subtle satire. In their arrogance and pride of power and their strong antagonism towards the true faith, they thought they would annihilate the three Prophets and their followers, but, contrary to their plot, they were themselves annihilated by only one stroke of the divine punishment.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir:  ( إِن كَانَتْ إِلاَّ صَيْحَةً وَحِدَةً فَإِذَا هُمْ خَـمِدُونَ  It was but one Sayhah and lo! they (all) were still.) He said, "So Allah destroyed that tyrant king, and destroyed the people of Antioch, and they disappeared from the face of the earth, leaving no trace behind. 

It was said that the words ( وَمَا كُنَّا مُنزِلِينَ nor was it needful for Us to send (such a thing).) mean, `We did not send the angels against the nations when We destroyed them; all We did was to send the punishment to destroy them.' 

It was said that the words: ( وَمَآ أَنزَلْنَا عَلَى قَوْمِهِ مِن بَعْدِهِ مِن جُندٍ مِّنَ السَّمَآءِ And We sent not against his people after him an army from the heaven,) mean, another Message to them. This was the view of Mujahid and Qatadah. Qatadah said, "Allah did not rebuke his people after they killed him,

(إِن كَانَتْ إِلاَّ صَيْحَةً وَحِدَةً فَإِذَا هُمْ خَـمِدُونَ  It was but one Sayhah and lo! they (all) were still).'' Ibn Jarir said, "The former view is more correct, because the Message does not need to be brought by an army.'' The scholars of Tafsir said, "Allah sent Jibril, peace be upon him, to them, and he seized the pillars at the gate of their city, then he hurled one Sayhah upon them and lo! they (all) were still, to the last man among them, and no soul was left in any body.'' We have already referred to the reports from many of the Salaf that this city was Antioch, and that these three Messengers were messengers sent from the Messiah `Isa bin Maryam, peace be upon him, as Qatadah and others stated. This is not mentioned by any of the later scholars of Tafsir besides him, and this issue must be examined from a number of angles. (The first) is that if we take this story at face value, it indicates that these men were Messengers from Allah, may He be glorified, not from the Messiah, peace be upon him, as Allah says: ( إِذْ أَرْسَلْنَآ إِلَيْهِمُ اثْنَيْنِ فَكَذَّبُوهُمَا فَعَزَّزْنَا بِثَالِثٍ فَقَالُواْ إِنَّآ إِلَيْكُمْ مُّرْسَلُونَ  When We sent to them two Messengers, they denied them both; so We reinforced them with a third, and they said: "Verily, we have been sent to you as Messengers.'') up to: ( قَالُواْ رَبُّنَا يَعْلَمُ إِنَّآ إِلَيْكُمْ لَمُرْسَلُونَ - وَمَا عَلَيْنَآ إِلاَّ الْبَلَـغُ الْمُبِينُ "Our Lord knows that we have been sent as Messengers to you. And our duty is only to convey plainly (the Message).'') If they had been from among the Disciples, they would have said something to indicate that they had come from the Messiah, peace be upon him. And Allah knows best. 

Moreover, if they had been messengers sent by the Messiah, why would the people have said to them:
(إِنْ أَنتُمْ إِلاَّ بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُنَا "You are only human beings like ourselves'') (The second) is that the people of Antioch did believe in the messengers sent by the Messiah to them. Antioch was the first city to believe in the Messiah, and it is one of the four cities in which there are Christian patriarchs. These cities are: Jerusalem, because it is the city of the Messiah; Antioch, because it was the first city where all of the people believed in the Messiah; Alexandria, because it was in that city that they agreed to reform the hierarchy of patriarchs, metropolitans (archbishops), bishops, priests, deacons and monks; and Rome, because it is the city of the Emperor Constantine who supported and helped to establish their religion. When he adopted Constantinople as his city, the Patriarch of Rome moved there, as has been mentioned by several historian, such as Sa`id bin Batriq and others, both People of the Book and Muslims. If we accept that, then the people of Antioch were the first to believe, but Allah tells us that the people of this town rejected His Messengers and that He destroyed them with one Sayhah and lo! they (all) were still. And Allah knows best. (The third) is that the story of Antioch and the Disciples of the Messiah happened after the Tawrah had been revealed. Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, and others among the Salaf stated that after revealing the Tawrah, Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, did not destroy an entire nation by sending a punishment upon them. Rather, He commanded the believers to fight the idolaters. They mentioned this when discussing the Ayah:

(وَلَقَدْ ءَاتَيْنَا مُوسَى الْكِتَـبَ مِن بَعْدِ مَآ أَهْلَكْنَا الْقُرُونَ الاٍّولَى And indeed We gave Musa -- after We had destroyed the generations of old -- the Scripture) (28:43). This implies that the city mentioned in the Qur'an is a city other than Antioch, as also stated by more than one of the Salaf. Or, if we wish to keep the same name, it is possible that it is another Antioch, not the one which is well-known, for it is not known that it (the famous Antioch) was destroyed, either during Christian times or before. And Allah knows best.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Allah's Justice or Punishment does not necessarily come with pomp and circumstance, nor have the forces of human evil or wickedness the power to require the exertion of mighty spiritual forces to subdue them. A single mighty Blast-either the rumbling of an earthquake, or a great and violent wind-was sufficient in this case. Cf. xi. 67 (which describes the fate of the Thamud; also. xxix. 40) and explanations.

Cf. xxi. 15. They had made a great deal of noise in their time, but they were reduced to silence, like spent ashes.

يٰحَسۡرَةً عَلَى الۡعِبَادِ ؔ​ۚ مَا يَاۡتِيۡهِمۡ مِّنۡ رَّسُوۡلٍ اِلَّا كَانُوۡا بِهٖ يَسۡتَهۡزِءُوۡنَ‏ 
(36:30) Alas for My servants! Never does a Messenger come to them but they mock him.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: Woe to the Disbelievers! - `Ali bin Abi Talhah reported that Ibn `Abbas commented on the Ayah: (يحَسْرَةً عَلَى الْعِبَادِ Alas for mankind!), this means, woe to mankind! Qatadah said: means, "Alas for mankind, who have neglected the command of Allah.'' The meaning is that they will feel regret and sorrow on the Day of Resurrection. When they see the punishment with their own eyes; they will regret how they disbelieved the Messengers of Allah and went against the commands of Allah, for they used to disbelieve in them in this world.

(مَا يَأْتِيهِمْ مِّن رَّسُولٍ إِلاَّ كَانُواْ بِهِ يَسْتَهْزِءُونَ There never came a Messenger to them but they used to mock at him.) means, they disbelieved him and made fun of him, and rejected the message of truth with which he had been sent.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: " Alas for My servants! " Lit., "Oh, the regrets upon the bondmen" (al-'ibad) - since all human beings, good or bad, are God's "bondmen". This phrase alludes to the Day of Judgment - which is described in 19:39 as "the Day of Regrets" - as well as to the fact, repeatedly stressed in the Qur'an, that most human beings choose to remain deaf to the voice of truth, and thus condemn themselves to spiritual death.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Cf. vi. 10 and many other passages of similar import. Ignorant men mock at Allah's prophets, or any one who takes Religion seriously. But they do not reflect that such levity reacts on themselves. Their own lives are ruined and they cease to count. If they study history, they will see that countless generations were destroyed before them because they did not take Truth seriously and undermined the very basis of their individual and collective existence. The servants is here equivalent to "men". Allah regrets the folly of men, especially as He cherishes them as His own servants.

اَلَمۡ يَرَوۡا كَمۡ اَهۡلَـكۡنَا قَبۡلَهُمۡ مِّنَ الۡقُرُوۡنِ اَنَّهُمۡ اِلَيۡهِمۡ لَا يَرۡجِعُوۡنَؕ‏ 
(36:31) Have they not seen how many nations before them did We destroy? Thereafter they never came back to them.
That is, they were annihilated so completely that not a trace of them was left behind them. No one in the world even remembers them today. Their civilization as well as their race has become extinct.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: meaning, `do you not learn a lesson from those whom Allah destroyed before you of those who disbelieved in the Messengers They came to this world only once, and will not return to it.' 

It is not as many of those ignorant and immoral people claim that ("There is nothing but our life of this world! We die and we live!'') (23:37). This was the belief in the cycle of reincarnation; in their ignorance they believed that they would come back to this world as they had been before. 

But Allah refuted their false belief and said: (Do they not see how many of the generations We have destroyed before them Verily, they will not return to them.)

Muhammad Asad Explanation: I.e., to the people now living. As in many other Qur'anic passages, the term qarn, which literally signifies a "generation" or "people living at the same period", has in this context the wider meaning of "society", or "civilization" in the historical connotation of these terms. Thus, the downfall and utter disappearance of past societies and civilizations is here linked to their spiritual frivolity and consequent moral failure. A further lesson to be drawn from this parable is the implied conclusion that the majority of people in every society, at all times (our own included), refuse to be guided by moral considerations, regarding them as opposed to their conventional mode of life and their pursuit of materialistic values - with the result that "never has an apostle come to them without their deriding him".

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Not to them will they return. What do the two pronouns them and they refer to? Commentators and translators have construed them differently, and some of them evade the question. To my mind the best construction seems to be: the generations which we have destroyed before the people addressed ('do they not see?') will not be restored to the people addressed: generations (qurun) standing for the periods of prosperity and good fortune enjoyed by the ancestors. They have all been wiped out: they will never be restored, but all people will be brought before the Judgment-seat for giving an account of their deeds.

وَاِنۡ كُلٌّ لَّمَّا جَمِيۡعٌ لَّدَيۡنَا مُحۡضَرُوۡنَ
(36:32) All of them shall (one day) be gathered before Us.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir:  means, all of the past nations and those that are yet to come, will be gathered and brought to account before Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, on the Day of Judgement, and they will be requited according to their good and evil deeds. 

This is like the Ayah:(And verily, to each of them your Lord will repay their works in full.) (11:111).

Ruku Three (verses 33-50)

وَاٰيَةٌ لَّهُمُ الۡاَرۡضُ الۡمَيۡتَةُ ۖۚ اَحۡيَيۡنٰهَا وَاَخۡرَجۡنَا مِنۡهَا حَبًّا فَمِنۡهُ يَاۡكُلُوۡنَ‏ 
(36:33) Let the dead earth be a Sign for them. We gave it life and produced from it grain whereof they eat.
Until now the disbelieves of Makkah were being warned and reproved for their denial of the truth and their attitude of antagonism which they had adopted towards the Prophet (peace be upon him). Now the discourse turns to the basic thing which was the actual cause of the conflict between them and the Prophet (peace be upon him), i.e. the doctrine of Tauhid and the Hereafter, which the Prophet (peace be upon him) was presenting and the disbelievers were refusing to accept. In this connection, some arguments have been given, one after the other, to make the people ponder over the realities, as if to say: Observe these phenomena of the universe, which are ever present before you. Do they not point to the same reality, which this Prophet is presenting before you?

“A sign”: A sign that Tauhid is the truth and shirk the falsehood.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: Proof of the Creator of the Universe and of Life after Death!

Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, says: (وَءَايَةٌ لَّهُمُ And a sign for them) means, evidence for them of the existence of the Creator and His perfect power and ability to resurrect the dead,

(الاٌّرْضُ الْمَيْتَةُ is the dead land.) means, when it is dead and arid, with no vegetation, then Allah sends water upon it, it is stirred (to life), and it swells and puts forth every lovely kind (of growth). Allah says:

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Lest any one should say, 'if they are destroyed, how can they be brought before the Judgment-seat' a symbol is pointed to. The earth is to all intents and purposes dead in the winter, but Allah revives it in the spring. Cf. ii. 164, xxx. 19, and many other passages to that effect.

وَجَعَلۡنَا فِيۡهَا جَنّٰتٍ مِّنۡ نَّخِيۡلٍ وَّاَعۡنَابٍ وَّفَجَّرۡنَا فِيۡهَا مِنَ الۡعُيُوۡنِۙ‏ 
(36:34) We made in it gardens of date-palms and vines, and We caused springs to gush forth

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: means, `We have created therein rivers which flow to the places where they are needed, so that they may eat of their fruits.' When Allah reminds them of the blessing that He bestows upon His creation by creating crops and plants, He mentions the different types and kinds of fruits. 

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Date-palms and vines stand as symbols for fruit-trees of all kinds, these being the characteristic fruits of Arabia. Grain was mentioned in the last verse; fruit is mentioned now. All that is necessary for food and the satisfaction of the choicest palate is produced from what looks like inert soil, fertilized by rain and springs. Here is wonderful evidence of the artistry and providence of Allah.

لِيَاۡكُلُوۡا مِنۡ ثَمَرِهٖ ۙ وَمَا عَمِلَـتۡهُ اَيۡدِيۡهِمۡ​ ؕ اَفَلَا يَشۡكُرُوۡنَ‏  
(36:35) that they might eat of its fruits. It was not their hands that made them. Will they not, then, give thanks?
Another translation of this sentence can be: So that they may eat fruits thereof and what their own hands make. That is, the artificial kinds of food, which the people prepare from the natural products, e.g. bread, curry, jam, pickles, sauces and countless other things.

In these brief sentences the vegetable and plant life of the earth has been presented as an argument. Man is eating the products of the earth day and night and regards this as very ordinary. But if he considers it seriously, he will see that the growth of rich crops and lush green gardens from the dry earth and the flow of the springs and rivers is not a simple thing, which might be happening of itself, but there is a great wisdom and power and providence which is working behind it. Consider the reality of the earth. The substances of which it is composed do not possess any power of their own for growth. All these substances individually as well as after every sort of combination, remain inorganic, and thus do not possess any sign of life. The question is: How did it become possible for plant life to emerge from the lifeless earth? If one looks into it, one will see that there are some important factors without whose provision beforehand life here could not have come into existence.
  • First, in particular regions of the earth, on its outer surface, a layer was arranged of many such substances, which could serve as food for vegetation. This layer was kept soft so that the roots of the vegetation could spread in it and suck food.
  • Secondly, a system of irrigation was arranged on the earth in different ways so that the food elements could get dissolved in water and absorbed by the roots.
  • Thirdly, the atmosphere was arranged around the earth which protects it against the calamities of the sky, becomes a means of the rainfall, and possesses gases which are necessary for the life and growth of the vegetation.
  • Fourthly, a relationship was established between the sun and the earth so as to provide proper temperature and suitable seasons for the vegetation.
With the provision of these main factors (which in themselves are combinations of countless other factors), the coming to life of the vegetation becomes possible. After arranging the suitable conditions the seed of each species of the vegetation was so constituted that as soon as it received favorable soil, water, air and season, vegetable life should begin stirring within it. Besides, inside the same seed a system was so arranged that from the seed of every species a plant precisely of the same species should grow with all the characteristics of its own species and heredity. Then, in addition to this, another wonderful thing was done. Vegetation was not created in twenty, or fifty, or a hundred kinds but in countless species, and they were so made that they should fulfill the requirements of food, medicine and clothing and innumerable other needs of the countless kinds of animals and man, who were to be brought into being after the vegetation on the earth.

Anyone who ponders over this wonderful arrangement, if he is not stubborn and prejudiced, will himself testify that all this could not have come about by itself. There is certainly a wise plan underlying it, according to which harmonies and relationships of the soil, water, air and season with respect to the vegetation, and harmonics and relationships of the vegetation with respect to the needs and requirements of animals and human beings have been determined, keeping in view the finest detail. No sensible person can imagine that these universal, all-embracing relationships could be a mere accident. This same subtle arrangement points to the fact that this cannot be the work of many gods. This is, and can only be the work of One God, Who is the Creator and Lord of the earth, water, air, sun, vegetation, animals and mankind. If each of these had a separate god, it cannot be imagined that such a comprehensive and universal plan with such deep and wise relationship and harmony could be produced, and should have continued to work with such regularity for millions upon millions of years.

After giving these arguments for Tauhid, Allah says: Do they not then give thanks? That is: Are these people so thankless and ungrateful that they do not render thanks to that God Who has provided all this for their survival, but thank others for the blessings and favors done by Him? Are they so wretched that instead of bowing before Him they bow before the false gods, who have not created even a blade of grass for them?

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: Allah says: (وَمَا عَمِلَتْهُ أَيْدِيهِمْ and their hands made it not.) means, all of that could only come about by the mercy of Allah towards them, not by their own efforts and labor and strength. This was the view of Ibn `Abbas and Qatadah. 

Allah says: ( أَفَلاَ يَشْكُرُونَ Will they not then give thanks) meaning, will they not then give thanks for the innumerable blessings that He has bestowed upon them. Ibn Jarir, however, understood the word Ma to mean Alladhi (i.e., a relative pronoun). In this case the meaning of the Ayah would be that they eat from the fruits provided by Allah's bounty and from what their own hands have done, i.e., by planting the seeds and tending the plants. Ibn Jarir mentioned other possible interpretations in his Tafsir, but this is the interpretation that he favored. This interpretation also fits with the recitation of Ibn Mas`ud: (لِيَأْكُلُوا مِنْ ثَمَرِهِ وَمِمَّا عَمِلَتْهُ أَيْدِيهِمْ أَفَلَا يَشْكُرُونَ) (So that they may eat of the fruit thereof -- and from what their own hands have done.) 

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Literally, eat (akala). Cf. vii. 19, and v. 69. The same wide meaning of profit, satisfaction, and enjoyment may be attached to the word "eat" in verse 33 above.

Man may till the soil and sow the seed, but the productive forces of nature were not made by man's hands. They are the handiwork and artistry of Allah, and are evidence of Allah's providence for His creatures. See verse 34 above.

سُبۡحٰنَ الَّذِىۡ خَلَقَ الۡاَزۡوَاجَ كُلَّهَا مِمَّا تُنۡۢبِتُ الۡاَرۡضُ وَمِنۡ اَنۡفُسِهِمۡ وَمِمَّا لَا يَعۡلَمُوۡنَ‏ 
(36:36) Holy is He Who created all things in pairs, whether it be of what the earth produces, and of themselves, and of what they do not know.
Glory be to Him: He is free from every defect and fault, from every error and weakness, and that another one should be His associate and partner in His work. The Quran has generally used these words when refuting polytheistic beliefs, because every belief of shirk is, in fact, an imputation of some defect, some weakness and some fault to Allah. When a person says that Allah has an associate, he in fact, thinks that either Allah is incapable of running and ruling His Kingdom alone, or He is under compulsion to make another His associate in His work. Or, some other beings are so powerful in themselves that they are interfering in God’s administration and God is putting up with their interference. Or, God forbid, Allah has the weaknesses of the worldly kings, due to which He is surrounded by an army of ministers, courtiers, flatterers and beloved princes or princesses, and thus many powers of Godhead have become divided among them. Had there been no such notions of ignorance about Allah in the minds, there could be no question of any idea of shirk in the world. That is why it has been stated again and again in the Quran That Allah is free from and exalted far above those defects and faults and weaknesses which the mushriks ascribe to Him.

This is still another argument for Tauhid. Here again certain realities of daily experience have been mentioned and it is suggested that man observes these day and night but does not ponder over them seriously, whereas they contain signs and pointers to the reality. The coming together of the man and woman is the cause of man’s own birth. Procreation among the animals also is due to the combination between the male and the female. Also about vegetation, man knows that the law of sex is working in it. Even among the lifeless substances when different things combine with one another, a variety of compounds come into existence. The basic composition of matter itself has become possible due to the close affinity between the positive and the negative electric charges. This law of the pairs which is the basis of the existence of the entire universe, contains in itself such complexities and finenesses of wisdom and workmanship, and there exist such harmonies and mutual relationships between the members of each pair that an objective observer can neither regard it as the result of an accident, nor can he believe that many different gods might have created these countless pairs and matched their members, one with the other, with such great wisdom. The members of each pair being a perfect match for each other and coming into being of new things with their combination itself is an explicit argument of the Creator’s being One and only One.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: ( سُبْحَـنَ الَّذِى خَلَق الاٌّزْوَجَ كُلَّهَا مِمَّا تُنبِتُ الاٌّرْضُ Glory be to Him Who has created all the pairs of that which the earth produces,) meaning, of crops and fruits and plants.

(وَمِنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ as well as of their own (human) kind, ) means, He made them into male and female. (وَمِمَّا لاَ يَعْلَمُونَ and of that which they know not.) means, different kinds of creatures of which they know nothing. 

This is like the Ayah: (And of everything We have created pairs, that you may remember.) (51:49)

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Lit., "who has created all the pairs out of whatever the earth produces, and out of themselves, and out of that of which they have no knowledge": a reference to the polarity evident in all creation, both animate and inanimate, which expresses itself in the existence of antithetic and yet complementary forces, like the sexuality in human beings, animals and plants, light and darkness, heat and cold, positive and negative magnetism and electricity, the positive and negative charges (protons and electrons) in the structure of the atom, and so forth. (It is to be borne in mind that the noun zawj denotes both "a pair" and "one of a pair", as explained for {13:3.}) The mention of "that of which they have no knowledge" evidently relates to things or phenomena not yet understood by man but potentially within the range of his comprehension: hence my interpolation, between brackets, of the words "as yet".

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: The mystery of sex runs through all creation,-in man, in animal life, in vegetable life, and possibly in other things of which we have no knowledge. Then there are pairs of opposite forces in nature, e.g., positive and negative electricity, etc. The atom itself consists of a positively charged nucleus or proton, surrounded by negatively charged electrons. The constitution of matter itself is thus referred to pairs of opposite energies.

وَاٰيَةٌ لَّهُمُ الَّيۡلُ ۖۚ نَسۡلَخُ مِنۡهُ النَّهَارَ فَاِذَا هُمۡ مُّظۡلِمُوۡنَۙ‏  
(36:37) And the night is another Sign for them. We strip the day from it and they become plunged in darkness.
The alternation of the night and day also is one of those realities which man does not regard as worthy of much attention only because it is a phenomenon of daily occurrence and experience; whereas if he considers how the day passes and how the night falls, and what is the wisdom in the passing of the day and in the falling of the night, he will himself realize that this is an obvious sign of the existence of an All-Powerful and All-Wise Allah and of His being One and only One. 

The day cannot pass and the night cannot fall until the sun hides from the earth. The great regularity which is found in the alternation of the day and night was not possible unless the sun and the earth were bound in one and the same relentless system. Then the deep relationship which exists between the alternation of the day and night and the other creations on the earth clearly points to the fact that this system has been established deliberately by a Being with perfect wisdom. The existence on the earth, of the men and animals and vegetation, and even of water and air and different minerals, is in fact, the result of placing the earth at a particular distance from the sun, with the arrangement that the different parts of the earth should go on successively coming before the sun and hiding from it at definite intervals. If the distance of the earth from the sun had been a little longer, or a little shorter, or there had been a perpetual night on one side of it and a perpetual day on the other, or the alternation of the day and night had been much faster or much slower, or sometimes the day had appeared suddenly and sometimes the night without any system, no life could be possible on this planet, and even the form and appearance of the inorganic substances would have been much different from what it is now. If the hearts are not blinded, one can clearly perceive in this system the working of a God, Who willed to bring into being this particular kind of creation on the earth and then established relevance, harmonies and relationships between the earth and the sun precisely in accordance with its needs and requirements. If a person regards the concept of the existence of God and His Unity as far removed from reason, he should think for himself and see how much farther removed should it be from reason to ascribe this wonderful creation to many gods, or to think that all this has happened automatically under some deaf and blind law of nature. When a person who can accept without question these latter unreasonable explanations, only on the basis of conjecture and speculation, says that the existence of a system and wisdom and purpose is not a sufficient proof of the existence of God, it becomes difficult for us to believe whether such a person really feels the need and necessity of a rational proof, sufficient or insufficient in any degree whatever, for accepting any concept of creed in the world.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: Among the Signs of the Might and Power of Allah are the Night and Day, and the Sun and Moon - (He brings the night as a cover over the day, seeking it rapidly) (7:54). Allah says here:
(And a sign for them is the night. We withdraw therefrom the day,) meaning, `We take it away from it, so it goes away and the night comes.' Allah says: (and behold, they are in darkness.) 

As it says in the Hadith: (When the night comes from here, and the day departs from here, and the sun has set, then the fasting person should break his fast.) This is the apparent meaning of the Ayah. 

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: "Withdrawing the Day from the Night" is a striking phrase and very apt. The Day or the Light is the positive thing. The Night or Darkness is merely negative. We cannot withdraw the negative. But if we withdraw the real thing, the positive, which filled the void, nothing is left but the void. The whole of this section deals with Signs or Symbols,-things in the physical world around us, from which we can learn the deepest spiritual truths if we earnestly apply ourselves to them.

وَالشَّمۡسُ تَجۡرِىۡ لِمُسۡتَقَرٍّ لَّهَا ​ؕ ذٰلِكَ تَقۡدِيۡرُ الۡعَزِيۡزِ الۡعَلِيۡمِؕ‏ 
(36:38) The sun is running its course to its appointed place. That is the ordaining of the All-Mighty, the All-Knowing.
“Place of rest” may either mean the place where the sun will ultimately come to a halt, or the time when it will come to a halt. The true meaning of this verse can be determined only when man has attained the full and exact knowledge of the realities of the universe. But man’s knowledge is such that it has been changing in every age and what he seems to know today might change tomorrow. The people of the ancient times on the basis of their observations of the sun believed that it was moving round the earth. Then after further research and observation the view became that the sun was stationary and all the planets of the solar system were revolving round it. But this theory also did not last long. The later observations revealed that not only the sun but all the stars are also moving in a particular direction, at speeds of 10 to 100 miles per second. About the sun the modern astronomers hold the view that it is moving at a speed of 20 kilometers (about 12 miles) per second along with its whole family of the planets. (See Star and Sun in Encyclopedia Britannica).

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: (And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term (appointed). That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing) There are two views over the meaning of the phrase:
(لِمُسْتَقَرٍّ لَّهَـا on its fixed course for a term (appointed). ) (The first view) is that it refers to its fixed course of location, which is beneath the Throne, beyond the earth in that direction. Wherever it goes, it is beneath the Throne, it and all of creation, because the Throne is the roof of creation and it is not a sphere as many astronomers claim. Rather it is a dome supported by legs or pillars, carried by the angels, and it is above the universe, above the heads of people. When the sun is at its zenith at noon, it is in its closest position to Throne, and when it runs in its fourth orbit at the opposite point to its zenith, at midnight, it is in its furthest position from the Throne. At that point it prostrates and asks for permission to rise, as mentioned in the Hadiths. 

Al-Bukhari recorded that Abu Dharr, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "I was with the Prophet in the Masjid at sunset, and he said: (O Abu Dharr! Do you know where the sun sets) I said, `Allah and His Messenger know best.' He said: (It goes and prostrates beneath the Throne, and that is what Allah says: (And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term. That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing.))''

It was also reported that Abu Dharr, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "I asked the Messenger of Allah about the Ayah: (وَالشَّمْسُ تَجْرِى لِمُسْتَقَرٍّ لَّهَـا And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term. ) He said: (Its fixed course is beneath the Throne.)'' (The second view) is that this refers to when the sun's appointed time comes to an end, which will be on the Day of Resurrection, when its fixed course will be abolished, it will come to a halt and it will be rolled up. This world will come to an end, and that will be the end of its appointed time. This is the fixed course of its time. 

Qatadah said: ( لِمُسْتَقَرٍّ لَّهَـا on its fixed course for a term (appointed).) means, "It has an appointed time and it will not go beyond that.'' It was also said that this means, it keeps moving in its summer orbit for a certain time, and it does not exceed that, then it moves to its winter orbit for a certain time, and it does not exceed that. This was narrated from `Abdullah bin `Amr, may Allah be pleased with him. 

Ibn Mas`ud and Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them, recited this Ayah as: (وَالشَّمْسُ تَجْرِي لَامُسْتَقَرَّ لَهَا) (And the sun runs with no fixed course for a term,) meaning that it has no destination and it does not settle in one place, rather it keeps moving night and day, never slowing down or stopping, as in the Ayah: (And He has made the sun and the moon, both constantly pursuing their courses, to be of service to you) (14:33). which means, they will never slow down or stop, until the Day of Resurrection.

(ذَلِكَ تَقْدِيرُ الْعَزِيزِ That is the decree of the Almighty, ) means, which none can oppose or prevent.

(الْعَلِيمُ the All-Knowing.) Who knows every movement and every cessation of movement, Who has decreed that and Who has set it in motion following a pattern in which there are no differences or inversions, as Allah says: ((He is the) Cleaver of the daybreak. He has appointed the night for resting, and the sun and the moon for reckoning. Such is the measuring of the Almighty, the All-Knowing.) (6:96) 

And this is how this Ayah ends: (ذَلِكَ تَقْدِيرُ الْعَزِيزِ الْعَلِيمِ That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing.)

Read more about the two attributes mention in this verse:
  • Al-`Alim (العليم) - The All-Knowing, The Omniscient
  • Al 'Aziz (العزيز) - The Mighty, The Eminent
Muhammad Asad Explanation: In the generally-accepted reading, this phrase is spelled li-mustagarrin laha " لِمُسۡتَقَرٍّ لَّهَا " , which may be rendered as above or, more conventionally, as "to its point of rest", i.e., the time (or point) of the daily sunset (Razi). However, Abd Allah ibn Masud is reliably reported to have read these words as la mustaqarra laha (Zamakhshari), which gives us the meaning of "it runs [on its course] without having any rest", i.e., unceasingly.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Mustaqarr may mean: (1) a limit of time, a period determined, as in vi. 67, or (2) a place of rest or quiescence; or (3) a dwelling place, as in ii. 36. I think the first meaning is best applicable here; but some Commentators take the second meaning. In that case the simile would be that of the sun running a race while he is visible to us, and taking a rest during the night to prepare himself to renew his race the following day. His stay with the antipodes appears to us as his period of rest.

وَالۡقَمَرَ قَدَّرۡنٰهُ مَنَازِلَ حَتّٰى عَادَ كَالۡعُرۡجُوۡنِ الۡقَدِيۡمِ‏ 
(36:39) We have appointed stages for the moon till it returns in the shape of a dry old branch of palm-tree.
The phases of the moon go on changing throughout the month. It begins as a crescent, then goes on waxing every day till it becomes the full moon on the 14th of the month. Then it starts waning every day till at last it returns to its original shape of the crescent. The same has been happening for millions of years with perfect regularity, and no change has ever occurred in the phases of the moon. That is why one can always calculate and find out exactly in what phase the moon will be on a particular day. If the movement of the moon had not been bound in a system, estimation of its phases would not have been possible.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: ( وَالْقَمَرَ قَدَّرْنَـهُ مَنَازِلَ And the moon, We have decreed for it stages,) meaning, `We have caused it to run in a different orbit, from which passing of the months can be deduced, just as night and day are known from the sun.' 

This is like the Ayah:
(They ask you about the crescent moons. Say: "These are signs to mark fixed periods of time for mankind and for the pilgrimage (Hajj). '') (2:189),
(It is He Who made the sun a shining thing and the moon as a light and measured out for it stages that you might know the number of years and the reckoning) (10:5), and
(And We have appointed the night and the day as two Ayat (signs). Then, We have obliterated the sign of the night while We have made the sign of the day illuminating, that you may seek bounty from your Lord, and that you may know the number of the years and the reckoning. And We have explained everything with full explanation.) (17:12) 
So, He has given the sun its own light, and the moon its (reflection of) light, and has given each its own orbit. So the sun rises each day and sets at the end of the day, giving one kind of light all the time, but it moves, rising and setting at different points in the summer and winter, thus making the days and nights longer or shorter alternatively according to the season. Its authority is in the daytime, for it is the heavenly body that dominates the day. As for the moon, Allah has decreed that it should pass through different phases. At the beginning of the month, the moon appears small when it rises. It gives off little light, then on the second night its light increases and it rises to a higher position, and the higher it rises the more light it gives -- even though it is reflected from the sun -- until it becomes full on the fourteenth night of the month. Then it starts to wane until the end of the month, until it appears like the old dried curved date stalk. Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "This is the original stem (which connects the bunch of dates to the tree).'' The Arabs have a name for each set of three nights in a month, according to the phases of the moon. They call the first three nights Ghurar; the next three nights Nufal; the next three nights Tusa` (nine) -- because the last of them is the ninth. The next three nights are called `Ushar (ten) -- because the first of them is the tenth. The next three nights are called Al-Bid (white) -- because of the light of the moon which shines brightly throughout these three nights. The next three nights are called Dura`, the plural of Dar`a', because on the first of them the night is dark from the moon rising late. Dar`a' refers to the black sheep, i.e., the one whose head is black; the next three nights Zulam; then Hanadis, then Da'adi; then Mihaq, because of the absence of moonlight at the beginning of the month. Abu `Ubayd did not recognize the names Tusa` and `Ushar, in the book Gharib Al-Musannaf.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: This is, in a condensed form, the meaning of the noun 'urjun - the raceme of the date-palm, which, when old and dry, becomes slender and curves like a crescent (cf. Lane V, 1997).

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: The lunar stations are the 28 divisons of the Zodiac, which are supposed to mark the daily course of the moon in the heavens from the time of the new moon to the time when the moon fades away in her "inter-lunar swoon", an expressive phrase coined by the poet Shelley.

'Urjun: a raceme of dates or of a date-palm; or the base or lower part of the raceme. When it becomes old, it becomes yellow, dry, and withered, and curves up like a sickle. Hence the comparison with the sickle-like appearance of the new moon. The moon runs through all her phases, increasing and decreasing, until she disappears, and then reappears as a little thin curve.

لَا الشَّمۡسُ يَنۡۢبَغِىۡ لَهَاۤ اَنۡ تُدۡرِكَ الۡقَمَرَ وَلَا الَّيۡلُ سَابِقُ النَّهَارِ​ؕ وَكُلٌّ فِىۡ فَلَكٍ يَّسۡبَحُوۡنَ‏ 
(36:40) Neither does it lie in the sun's power to overtake the moon nor can the night outstrip the day. All glide along, each in its own orbit.
" Neither does it lie in the sun's power to overtake the moon " This sentence can have two meanings and both are correct.
  • (1) The sun does not have the power that it should draw the moon into itself, or enter its orbit and collide with it.
  • (2) The sun cannot appear in the times which have been appointed for the rising and appearing of the moon. It is not possible that the sun should suddenly appear on the horizon when the moon is shining at night.
" nor can the night outstrip the day " Nor does this happen either that the night should approach before the appointed period of the day comes to an end, and should start spreading its darkness suddenly during the time when the day is meant to spread its light.

" All glide along, each in its own orbit. " The word falak in Arabic is used for the orbit of the planets, and it gives a different meaning from the word sama (sky). The sentence, “Each in an orbit is floating” points to four realities.
  • (1) That not only the sun and the moon but all the stars and planets and celestial bodies are moving.
  • (2) The falak, or orbit, of each one of them is separate.
  • (3) That the orbits are not moving with the stars in them, but the stars are moving in the orbits.
  • (4) That the movement of the stars in their orbits is similar to the floating of something in a fluid.
These verses are not intended to describe the realities of astronomy, but are meant to make man understand that if he looks around himself, with open eyes, and uses his common sense, he will find countless and limitless proofs of the existence of God and His Unity, and he will not come across a single proof of atheism and shirk. The vastness of the solar system in which our earth is included is such that its parent body, the sun, is 300,000 times bigger than the earth, and its farthest planet Neptune is at least 2,793 million miles distant from the sun. However, if Pluto is taken as the farthest planet, it revolves 4,600 million miles away round it. Notwithstanding this vastness, the solar system occupies a very insignificant part of a huge galaxy. The galaxy which includes our solar system has about 3,000 million suns in it, and its nearest sun is so distant from our earth that its light takes about four years to reach us. Then this galaxy also is not the whole universe. According to the investigations made so far, it has been estimated that it is one of about 2,000,000 spiral nebulae, and the nearest nebula is about a million light years away from the earth. As for the farthest celestial bodies which are visible through the modern instruments, their light reaches the earth in about 100 million years. Even now it cannot be claimed that man has seen the whole universe. It is a small part of the Kingdom of God which man has yet been able to observe. It cannot be predicted how far and deep man will yet be able to see with greater and more efficient means of observation at his disposal.

All the information that has been gathered so far about the universe proves that this whole world is made up of the same substance of which our tiny earthly world is made, and the same law is working in the universe which is working in the world of our earth; otherwise it was not at all possible, that man should have made observations of the very distant worlds from the earth, measured their distances and estimated their movements. Is it not a clear proof of the fact that this whole universe is the creation of One God and the Kingdom of One Ruler? Then from the order and the wisdom and the excellence of workmanship and the deep relationships which are found in the hundreds of thousands of the galaxies and in the millions and billions of the stars and planets revolving in them no sensible person can imagine that all this has come about automatically. Is it possible that there should be no administrator behind this order and system, no sage behind this wisdom, no designer behind this design and work of art, and no planner behind this planning?

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Though the sun and the moon both traverse the belt of the Zodiac, and their motions are different, they never catch up each other. When the sun and the moon are on the same side and on a line with the earth there is a solar eclipse, and when on opposite side in a line, there is a lunar eclipse, but there is no clash. Their Laws are fixed by Allah, and form the subject of study in astronomy. Similarly Night and Day follow each other, but being opposites cannot coincide, a fit emblem of the opposition of Good and Evil, Truth and Falsehood: see also verse 37 above.

Cf. xxi. 33, and explanation. 
I have indicated, unlike most translators, the metaphor of swimming implied in the original words: how beautiful it is to contemplate the heavenly bodies swimming through space (or ether) in their rounded courses before our gaze!
How beautifully the rounded courses of the planets and heavenly bodies are described, "swimming" through space, with perfectly smooth motion! As Shakespeare expresses it, each "in his motion like an angel sings, Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubims!"

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: ( ﴿لاَ الشَّمْسُ يَنبَغِى لَهَآ أَن تدْرِكَ القَمَرَ It is not for the sun to overtake the moon,) Mujahid said, "Each of them has a limit which it does not transgress or fall short of. When the time of one comes, the other goes away, and when the time for one to prevail comes, the time of the other ceases.'' `

Ikrimah said concerning the Ayah, 9لاَ الشَّمْسُ يَنبَغِى لَهَآ أَن تدْرِكَ القَمَرَ ) this means that each of them has its time when it prevails. So it is not appropriate for the sun to rise at night.

(وَلاَ الَّيْلُ سَابِقُ النَّهَارِ nor does the night outstrip the day.) means, after night has passed, it is not right for another night to come until it has been day. The authority of the sun is during the day and the authority of the moon is at night. Ad-Dahhak said, "The night does not depart from here until the day comes from here -- and he pointed to the east.'' 

Mujahid said: (nor does the night outstrip the day.) "They seek one another rapidly.'' The meaning is that there is no gap between night and day; each of them follows the other with no interval, because they have been subjugated and are both constantly pursuing one another.

(وَكُلٌّ فِى فَلَكٍ يَسْبَحُونَ They all float, each in an orbit.) means, night and day, the sun and the moon, all of them are floating, i.e., revolving, in their orbits in the heaven. This was the view of Ibn `Abbas, `Ikrimah, Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan, Qatadah and `Ata' Al-Khurasani. Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, and others among the Salaf said, "In an orbit like the arc of a spinning wheel.''

وَاٰيَةٌ لَّهُمۡ اَنَّا حَمَلۡنَا ذُرِّيَّتَهُمۡ فِى الۡفُلۡكِ الۡمَشۡحُوۡنِۙ‏ 
(36:41) Another Sign for them is that We carried all their offspring in the laden vessel
“A laden vessel”: the Ark of the Prophet Noah (peace be upon him). As to boarding of the progeny of man in it, it means that although apparently a few companions of the Prophet Noah (peace be upon him) had boarded it, in reality all human beings who are to be born till Resurrection were boarding it; all the rest of mankind had been drowned in the flood, all later human beings are the children of those who were rescued in the Ark.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: Among the Signs of Allah is that He carried Them in the laden Ship
Allah tells us: another sign for them of His might and power is that He has subjugated the sea to carry ships, including -- most significantly -- the ship of Nuh , peace be upon him, in which Allah saved him and the believers, apart from whom none of the descendants of Adam were left on the face of the earth. 

Allah says: (وَءَايَةٌ لَّهُمْ أَنَّا حَمَلْنَا ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ And an Ayah for them is that We bore their offspring) means, their forefathers,

( فِى الْفُلْكِ الْمَشْحُونِ in the laden ship.) means, in the ship which was filled with luggage and animals, in which Allah commanded him to put two of every kind. Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "Laden means filled.'' This was also the view of Sa`id bin Jubayr, Ash-Sha`bi, Qatadah and As-Suddi. Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah and Ibn Zayd said, "This was the ship of Nuh peace be upon him.'' 

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Lit., "in the laden ship": a generic singular with a plural significance. The term "offspring" denotes here the human race as a whole (cf. the recurring expression "children of Adam").

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Besides the beauty of the Night, with the stars and the planets "swimming" in their rounded courses according to perfect Law, suggesting both symmetry and harmony, there are other Signs touching closely the life of man himself, projected through Time, in the past history of his race and in his own personal experience. The past history of his race takes us to the story of the Flood, which is symbolical of Allah's justice and mercy. Noah's Ark was a "Sign to all People": xxix. 15. Man's own personal experience is appealed to in every ship afloat: see next note.

وَخَلَقۡنَا لَهُمۡ مِّنۡ مِّثۡلِهٖ مَا يَرۡكَبُوۡنَ‏ 
36:42) and then created for them other vessels like those on which they ride.
This indicates that the first vessel ever to be made in the world was the one made by the Prophet Noah (peace be upon him). Before that time man did not know any method of crossing the rivers and the seas. This method was first of all taught by Allah to the Prophet Noah (peace be upon him), and when some servants, of Allah were rescued in it from the flood, their future generations started making boats and ships for their sea journeys.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: (وَخَلَقْنَا لَهُمْ مِّن مِّثْلِهِ مَا يَرْكَبُونَ And We have created for them of the like thereunto, on which they ride.) Al-`Awfi said, narrating from Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, "This means the camel, for it is the ship of the land on which they carry goods and on which they ride. '' 

Ibn Jarir recorded that Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "Do you know what the Ayah: (And We have created for them of the like thereunto, on which they ride.) refers to'' We said, "No.'' He said, "This refers to the ships which were made after the ship of Nuh, peace be upon him, which was similar to it.'' 

This was also the view of Abu Malik, Ad-Dahhak, Qatadah, Abu Salih and As-Suddi, that the Ayah (And We have created for them of the like thereunto, on which they ride.) refers to ships.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Cf. 16:8 and the corresponding note - reproduced herein under:
"And [it is He who creates] horses and mules and asses for you to ride, as well as for [their] beauty: and He will yet create things of which [today] you have no knowledge."
The use, in this context, of the aorist yakhluqu implies the future tense ("He will create") in contrast with the past tense khalaqa employed in the preceding passages. Since this reference to God's continuing creation comes immediately after a mention of primitive means of transport (i.e. of animals domesticated by man to this end), it obviously relates to other - as yet unknown - things of the same category: that is to say, to new means of transport which God unceasingly creates through the instrumentality of the inventiveness with which He has endowed man's mind (cf. 36:42 ). Inasmuch as every successive stage of human development bears witness to new, previously undreamt-of inventions in the realm of transport, the Qur'anic statement that "He will yet create things of which [today] you have no knowledge" is valid for every period - past, present and future - of man's history.
In both of these passages man's ingenuity is shown to be a direct manifestation of God's creativeness.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: The stately ships sailing through the seas, heavier than air, yet carrying man and his goods safely and smoothly across the waters, are another Sign for man. Ships are not mentioned, but (vessels) like the Ark: they would cover all kinds of sea-craft, but also the modern aircraft, which "swims" through air instead of through water.

وَاِنۡ نَّشَاۡ نُغۡرِقۡهُمۡ فَلَا صَرِيۡخَ لَهُمۡ وَلَا هُمۡ يُنۡقَذُوۡنَۙ‏ 
(36:43) Should We so wish, We can drown them, and there will be none to heed their cries of distress, nor will they be rescued.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir:  ( وَإِن نَّشَأْ نُغْرِقْهُ And if We will, We shall drown them,) means, those who are on board the ships. ( فَلاَ صَرِيخَ لَهُمْ and there will be no shout for them) means, there will be no one to save them from their predicament. (وَلاَ هُمْ يُنقَذُونَnor will they be saved. ) means, from what has befallen them.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Were it not that Allah gives man the intelligence and ingenuity to construct and manage sea-craft and air-craft, the natural laws of gravity would lead to the destruction of any who attempted to pass through sea or air. It is the gift (mercy) of Allah that saves him.

اِلَّا رَحۡمَةً مِّنَّا وَمَتَاعًا اِلٰى حِيۡنٍ‏ 
(36:44) It is only Our Mercy (that rescues them) and enables enjoyment of life for a while.
The signs until now were mentioned as arguments for Tauhid. This sign has been mentioned to make man realize that whatever powers he has been given over the forces of nature, have been given him by Allah and are not of his own acquirement. And whatever methods he has discovered of exploiting these forces; have been discovered also through the guidance of Allah and not solely by himself. Man did not have the power and strength to have subdued these great forces by his own power, nor the capability to have discovered the secrets of nature himself and known the methods of taking service from them. Then he can use and employ the forces over which he has been given control by Allah only till the time that Allah wills them to remain subdued to him. For when Allah wills otherwise the same forces which were serving man turn against him suddenly and he finds himself utterly helpless before them. To call man’s attention to this reality, Allah has presented the case of the sea journey only as an example. The whole human race would have perished in the flood had Allah not taught the method of making the vessel to the Prophet Noah (peace be upon him) and had his followers not boarded it. Then the scattering of the human race over the whole earth became possible only because the people learned the principles of building vessels from Allah and became able to cross the rivers and oceans. But from that humble beginning till today in spite of making great strides in the art of building huge ships and attaining every possible perfection in the science of navigation, man cannot claim that he has brought the rivers and the oceans fully under his control and power. Even today the water of God is still in God’s own power alone and whenever He wills He drowns man along with his ships in it.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: ( إِلاَّ رَحْمَةً مِّنَّا Unless it be a mercy from Us,) means, `but by Our mercy We make it easy for you to travel on land and sea, and We keep you safe until an appointed time.' 

Allah says: ( وَمَتَاعاً إِلَى حِينٍ and as an enjoyment for a while.) meaning, until a time that is known to Allah, may He be glorified and exalted.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Cf. xvi. 80. Allah has given man all these wonderful things in nature and utilities produced by the skill and intelligence which Allah has given to man. Had it not been for these gifts, man's life would have been precarious on sea or land or in the air. It is only Allah's Mercy that saves man from destruction for man's own follies, and that saving or the enjoyment of these utilities and conveniences he should not consider as eternal: they are only given for a time, in this life of probation.

وَاِذَا قِيۡلَ لَهُمُ اتَّقُوۡا مَا بَيۡنَ اَيۡدِيۡكُمۡ وَمَا خَلۡفَكُمۡ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تُرۡحَمُوۡنَ‏  
(36:45) When it is said to such people: “Guard yourselves against what is ahead of you and what has preceded you that mercy be shown to you” (they pay scant heed to it).
“What is behind you”: Which the peoples before you have seen and experienced.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: " And [yet,] when they are told, "Beware of [God's insight into] all that lies open before you and all that is hidden from you, " For an explanation of this rendering of the above phrase, see surah {2}, note [247] - reproduced herein under:
Lit., "that which is between their hands and that which is behind them". The commentators give most conflicting interpretations to this phrase. Thus, for instance, Mujahid and 'Ata' assume that "that which is between their hands" means "that which has happened to them in this world", while "that which is behind them" is an allusion to "that which will happen to them in the next world"; Ad-Dahhak and Al-Kalbi, on the other hand, assume the exact opposite and say that "that which is between their hands" refers to the next world, "because they are going towards it", while "that which is behind them" means this world, "because they are leaving it behind" (Razi). Another explanation is "that which took place before them and that which will take place after them" (Zamakhshari). It would seem, however, that in all these interpretations the obvious meaning of the idiomatic expression ma bayna yadayhi ("that which lies open between one's hands") is lost sight of: namely, that which is evident, or known, or perceivable; similarly, ma khalfahu means that which is beyond one's ken or perception. Since the whole tenor of the above Qur'an-verse relates to God's omnipotence and omniscience, the translation given by me seems to be the most appropriate. 
In the present instance it apparently denotes men's conscious doings as well as their unconscious or half-conscious motivations.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: Man should consider and beware of the consequences of his past, and guard against the consequences in his future. The present is only a fleeting moment poised between the past and the future, and gone even while it is being mentioned or thought about. Man should review his whole life and prepare for the Hereafter. If he does so, Allah is Merciful: He will forgive, and give strength for a better and higher life in the future. But this kind of teaching does not suit those steeped in this ephemeral life. They are bored, and turn away from it, to their own loss.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: The Misguidance of the Idolators - Allah tells us how the idolators persisted in their misguidance and in not paying attention to the sins that they had committed in the past or what was to happen to them in the future, on the Day of Resurrection.

( وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمُ اتَّقُواْ مَا بَيْنَ أَيْدِيكُمْ وَمَا خَلْفَكُمْ And when it is said to them: "Fear of that which is before you, and that which is behind you...'') Mujahid said, "This refers to sins.'' Others said it is the opposite.

( لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ in order that you may receive mercy.) means, `so that, if you fear such things Allah will have mercy on you and will save you from His punishment.' The wording implies that they would not respond. Rather that they would turn away and ignore that, as Allah says:

وَمَا تَاۡتِيۡهِمۡ مِّنۡ اٰيَةٍ مِّنۡ اٰيٰتِ رَبِّهِمۡ اِلَّا كَانُوۡا عَنۡهَا مُعۡرِضِيۡنَ‏
(36:46) Never does any Sign of their Lord come to them, but they turn away from it.
“Signs”: Verses of the divine Book by which man is admonished, and the signs which are found in the universe and in man’s own self and in his history which serve as abject lessons for man, provided he is inclined to learn any lesson.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: meaning, signs of Tawhid and the truth of the Messengers, they did not accept it or benefit from it.

Muhammad Asad Explanation: Or: "no sign of their Sustainer's signs" - since the noun ayah, repeated several times in the preceding passage, denotes "a message" as well as "a sign".

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: The Signs of Allah are many, in His great world,-in nature, in the heart of man, and in the Revelation sent through His messengers. They turn away from all of them, as a man who has ruined his eyesight turns away from the light.

وَاِذَا قِيۡلَ لَهُمۡ اَنۡفِقُوۡا مِمَّا رَزَقَكُمُ اللّٰهُ ۙ قَالَ الَّذِيۡنَ كَفَرُوۡا لِلَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡۤا اَنُطۡعِمُ مَنۡ لَّوۡ يَشَآءُ اللّٰهُ اَطۡعَمَهٗٓ ۖ  اِنۡ اَنۡـتُمۡ اِلَّا فِىۡ ضَلٰلٍ مُّبِيۡنٍ‏ 
(36:47) And when it is said to them: “Spend (in the Way of Allah) out of the sustenance that Allah has provided you,” the unbelievers say to the believers: “Shall we feed him whom, Allah would have fed, had He so wished?” Say: “You are in evident error.”
This means to show that disbelief has not only blinded their intellect but has destroyed their moral sense, too. They neither have the right thought about Allah nor do they adopt the right attitude towards the people. They react adversely to every admonition, follow a perverse philosophy in respite of every deviation and immorality and have a ready-made pretense for escape from every good.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: (وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ أَنفِقُواْ مِمَّا رِزَقَكُمُ الله And when it is said to them: "Spend of that with which Allah has provided you,'') means, when they are told to spend of that which Allah has provided to them on the poor and needy among the Muslims,

(قَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ لِلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ those who disbelieve say to those who believe) means, about the believers who are poor, i.e., they say to those believers who tell them to spend on the needy,

(أَنُطْعِمُ مَن لَّوْ يَشَآءُ اللَّهُ أَطْعَمَهُ Shall we feed those whom, if Allah willed, He (Himself) would have fed) meaning, `those whom you are telling us to spend on, if Allah had wanted to, He would have made them independent and fed them from His provision, so we are in accordance with the will of Allah with regard to them.

(إِنْ أَنتُمْ إِلاَّ فِى ضَلَـلٍ مُّبِينٍ You are only in a plain error.) means, `by telling us to do that.'

Muhammad Asad Explanation: In Qur'anic usage, the verb anfaqa (lit., "he spent") invariably signifies one's spending on others, or for the good of others, whatever the motive. The ethical importance of this "spending on others" is frequently stressed in the Qur'an, and is embodied in the concept of zakah, which denotes "purifying dues" or, in its broader sense, "charity" (see note [34] on 2:43 ) - reproduced herein under:.
In Islamic Law, zakah denotes an obligatory tax, incumbent on Muslims, which is meant to purify a person's capital and income from the taint of selfishness (hence the name). The proceeds of this tax are to be spent mainly, but not exclusively, on the poor. Whenever, therefore, this term bears the above legal implication, I translate it as "the purifying dues". Since, however, in this verse it refers to the children of Israel and obviously implies only acts of charity towards the poor, it is more appropriate to translate it as "almsgiving" or "charity". I have also adopted this latter rendering in all instances where the term zakah, though relating to Muslims, does not apply specifically to the obligatory tax as such (e.g., in 73:20 , where this term appears for the first time in the chronology of revelation).

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: To selfish men, the good may make an appeal, and say: "Look! Allah has given you wealth, or influence, or knowledge, or talent. Why not spend some of it in charity, i.e., for the good of your fellow-creatures?" But the selfish only think of themselves and laugh such teaching to scorn.

They are too full of themselves to have a corner in their hearts for others. "If" they say, "Allah gave them nothing, why should we?" There is arrogance in this as well as blasphemy: arrogance in thinking that they are favoured because of their merits, and blasphemy in laying the blame of other people's misfortunes on Allah. They further try to turn the tables on the Believers by pretending that the Believers are entirely on a wrong track. They forget that all men are on probation and trial: they hold their gifts on trust: those apparently less favoured, in that they have fewer of this world's goods, may be really more fortunate, because they are learning patience, self-reliance, and the true value of things ephemeral which is apt to be very much exaggerated in men's eyes. 

وَيَقُوۡلُوۡنَ مَتٰى هٰذَا الۡوَعۡدُ اِنۡ كُنۡتُمۡ صٰدِقِيۡنَ‏ 
(36:48) They say: “When will this threat (of Resurrection) come to pass? Tell us if indeed you are truthful.”
After Tauhid the other question about which a dispute was raging between the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the disbelievers was the question of the Hereafter. Rational arguments about this have been given in the end of the discourse. Here, before giving the arguments, the Hereafter has been depicted with all its horrors so that the people should know that what they are refusing to believe in cannot be averted by their denial, but they have to meet and experience it one day inevitably.

The question did not mean that they wanted to know the exact date of the coming of the Hereafter, and if, for instance, they were told that it would take place on such and such a date in such and such a month and year, their doubts would have been removed and they would have believed in it. Such questions, in fact, were put as a challenge only for the sake of argument. What they meant to say was that there would be no Resurrection whatever, as if to say: You are threatening us with Resurrection without rhyme or reason. That is why in reply it has not been said that Resurrection will take place on such and such a day, but that it shall come and shall be accompanied by such and such horrors.

Yusuf Ali  Explanation: In addition to the arrogance and blasphemy referred to in the last note, they not only refuse Faith, but they taunt the men of Faith as if the men of Faith were dealing in falsehood: "If there is a Hereafter, tell us when it will be!" The answer is: "It will come sooner than you expect: you will yet be disputing about things of Faith and neglecting your opportunities in Life, when the Hour will sound, and you will have no time even to make your dispositions in this life: you will be cut off from everyone whom you thought to be near and dear to you, or able to help you!"

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: The Disbelievers thought that the Day of Resurrection would never come to pass - Allah tells us how the disbelievers thought that the Day of Resurrection would never come to pass, as they said: ("When will this promise be fulfilled...'')

(يَسْتَعْجِلُ بِهَا الَّذِينَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِهَا Those who believe not therein seek to hasten it) (42:18). Allah says:

مَا يَنۡظُرُوۡنَ اِلَّا صَيۡحَةً وَّاحِدَةً تَاۡخُذُهُمۡ وَهُمۡ يَخِصِّمُوۡنَ‏  
(36:49) The Truth is that they are waiting for nothing but a mighty Blast to seize them the while they are disputing (in their worldly affairs),

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir: (They await only but a single Sayhah which will seize them while they are disputing!) meaning, they are only waiting for a single shout which -- and Allah knows best -- will be the trumpet blast of terror when the Trumpet will be blown while the people are in their marketplaces and places of work, arguing and disputing as they usually do. While in this state, Allah will command Israfil to blow into the Trumpet, so he will sound a long note and there will be no one left on the face of the earth except he will tilt his head to listen to the sound coming from heaven. Then the people who are alive will be driven to the gathering place by a fire which will surround them on all sides. Allah says:

فَلَا يَسۡتَطِيۡعُوۡنَ تَوۡصِيَةً وَّلَاۤ اِلٰٓى اَهۡلِهِمۡ يَرۡجِعُوۡنَ‏  
(36:50) and they will not even be able to make a testament, nor to return to their households.
That is, the Resurrection will not take place piecemeal so that the people may leisurely watch its coming, but it will come all of a sudden when the people will be engaged in their daily business and they will have no idea whatever that the end of the world had approached. There will be a terrible blast and everyone will fall dead at the spot. Abdullah bin Amr and Abu Hurairah have related a Hadith from the Prophet (peace be upon him) saying: The people will be walking on the roads as usual, will be buying and selling in the markets, will be disputing matters in their assemblies, when suddenly the Trumpet shall be sounded. Thereupon the one who was buying cloth would collapse and he would not have the time to put down the cloth from his hand; the one who was filling a cistern to water his animals would not have the time to water; and the one who was going to eat, would not have the time to lift the morsel to his mouth and Resurrection will take place.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir:  (فَلاَ يَسْتَطِيعُونَ تَوْصِيَةً Then they will not be able to make bequest, ) meaning, with regard to their possessions, because the matter is more serious than that,

(وَلاَ إِلَى أَهْلِهِمْ يَرْجِعُونَ nor they will return to their family.) Numerous Hadiths and reports have been narrated about this, which we have mentioned elsewhere. After this there will be the Trumpet blast which will cause everyone who is alive to die, besides the One Who is Ever Living, Eternal. Then after that the trumpet blast of the resurrection will be sounded.

Here we come to the end of Part One of the tafsir/exegesis of Sūrah Yāʾ Sīn, covering first three Ruku (verses 1-50). The remaining part of the Sūrah Yāʾ Sīn, i.e., Ruku 4-5 covering verses 51-83 is covered in Part Two, posted separately.

Please refer to our Reference Page "114 Chapters (Sūrahs) of the Holy Qur'an" for translation, explanation and exegesis of all other chapters of the Qur'an. You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation / exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  [1]
  • The plain translation and explanation has also been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [2]
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided by [2], additional input has been interjected from following sources (links to Reference Pages given below):  
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
  • Tafsir Nouman Ali Khan
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given below. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites:

Photo | References: | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 67 | 8 | 9 | 10 |

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